The Era of Confusion No period of Egyptian history is in greater confusion than the close of Dynasty XVIII. To reconstruct this period scholars have limited themselves almost wholly to the meagre finds of archaeology. without any proof whatsoever, they have rejected or silently passed over the testimony of Africanus and Josephus, of the book of Sothis and the Bible.
To fill up gaps in the commonly accepted interpretation of history, they have written countless volumes on the unimportant king Tutankhamen — who reigned only ten years. They have lauded Akhenaten, the father of King Tutankhamen, as the world's "first monotheist," when he was instead, a sexual deviate who used the cloak of religion to beget children by his own mother and daughters — not to speak of his attraction toward his son Smenkhkare.
There is a reason historians have painted the closing years of Dynasty XVIII as one of religious idealism and philosophic wisdom. In some way they have to erase the presence of monotheism in Israel, and the rise of Proverb literature. Since the scholarly world has not been willing to attribute it to God, the origin has been sought in Egypt. No such foolish deduction could have been possible had historians properly placed Dynasty XVIII parallel with the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
Egypt As It Really Was The history of Egypt for the late eighteenth and the nineteenth dynasties is vividly described in the Bible. It is a picture quite unlike that of the early Thutmoses. Changes were becoming noticeable in the reign of Thutmose IV. But not until the accession of Amenhotpe III, the grandson of Amenhotpe II, did the history of Egypt become one of utter religious confusion, political division, folly. What happened is made clear in the book of Isaiah:
"The princes of Zoan are utter fools; "The wisest counsellors of Pharaoh are a senseless counsel; "How can ye say unto Pharaoh: "'I am the son of ancient kings'? ... "The princes of Zoan are become fools, "The princes of Noph (Memphis) are deceived; "They have caused Egypt to go astray" (Isaiah 20:11-13). Who are these princes of Zoan — the descendants of ancient kings? Isaiah again writes of the same period:
"And I" — God is speaking — "will spur Egypt against Egypt, "And they shall fight everyone against his brother, "And every one against his neighbor; "City against city, and kingdom against kingdom. ".... And I will give over the Egyptians "Into the hand of a cruel lord; "And a fierce king shall rule over them, "Saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 19:2-4). For nearly 170 years following the expulsion of the Hyksos, Egypt was united under one royal family. But here one sees an Egypt divided, not merely into cities, but into kingdoms. What parallel dynasties ruled these feuding kingdoms? Are the records of these internal wars found on the monuments?
Indeed! All these surprising Scriptures are made plain once the history of Egypt is properly restored to its true chronological position.
The Later Eighteenth Dynasty The records of Theban Dynasty XVIII have been restored through Thutmose IV. Beginning with Amenhotpe III, historians are in great confusion. Most of the controversy is suppressed in textbooks. It does not reach the ears of students.
The controversy is primarily due to the serious mistake of rejecting the classical evidence from Manetho. As with the early dynasties, Manetho preserved much that archaeology has not, and perhaps never will, discover. By; contrast, much that Manetho's transcribers thought unimportant has been rediscovered by archaeology. The true picture of what really happened in the next four centuries can be told only by utilizing both Manetho and archaeological finds.
So varied were the events surrounding the later years of Dynasty XVIII that no one ancient writer preserves all the details from Manetho. Not even Manetho appears to have recorded the whole account. Archaeology has unearthed many of the missing pieces of the puzzle. What is needed is to combine both Manetho and the finds of archaeology with the Bible.
Historians for years have been sharply divided over the events of the last years of Amenhotpe III. Many hold that he associated his son Akhenaten with him on the throne. Though other historians deny it, Manetho confirms the association. See the chart from Africanus presented later in this chapter.
The archaeologists who recognize that the father associated the son on the throne for a time have made the mistake, however, of interpreting the reign of Akhenaten as commencing, in the documents and monuments, from the beginning of his appointment. On his monuments, Akhenaten adopted the practice of dating his reign from the death of his father Amenhotpe III. The evidence of the El-Amarna correspondence absolutely proves that Akhenaten was abroad during many years of the coregency and did not return till the death of his father ("The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology", vol. 43, 1957, pages 13-14). This fact misled the opposing school of historians to deny the firmly documented coregency.
From archaeology the following chart may be constructed. (See "Journal of Near Eastern Studies", vol. xxv, April 1966, Pages 113-124, by Donald B. Redford.)
The classical writers took no note of the short reigns of Orus' sons Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen. For them, the entire period was assigned to Orus. Similarly archaeology knows little or nothing of the other children born to Akhenaten.
Names of Kings of Dynasty Lengths of Reign Dates
XVIII from Archaeology
Thutmose IV 9 918-909
Amenhotpe III 38 909-871
Akhenaten (Orus) 17 871-854
Smenkhkare 3 854-851
Tutankhamen 10 851-841
Ay 4 841-837
Haremhab 59 837-778
King Ay, whose name appears next to last, was not of royal descent. He gained great influence in the latter years of the court of Amenhotpe III. He is mentioned in documents as father-in-law of Akhenaten. His daughter was Nefertiti, the king's chief queen. Unfortunately Ay later became the brother-in-law of Akhenaten. Ay's sister Tiy, who was the mother of Akhenaten, became also his wife toward the middle of his reign. What befell Nefertiti afterward is unrecorded in history.
Young Smenkhkare — for whom Akhenaten also had an unnatural attraction — later returned to the old capital of Thebes while his father remained at El-Amarna. After three short years on the throne, the youth was supplanted by his younger brother Tutankhamen.
Ten years later, Tutankhamen died. Ay gave Tutankhamen a sumptuous burial, then mounted the throne himself and apparently married Tutankhamen's young widow, his own granddaughter, to secure his claim to royalty. (See "Journal of Egyptian Archaeology", "King Ay, the successor of Tut-Ankh-amun," vol. XCIII (1932), pages 50-52.)
Ay reigned 4 years. He died in 837.
Haremhab, who succeeded Ay, was a general who played no small part in the drama that climaxed the El-Amarna period. General Haremhab controlled the army. At his coronation in 837 he married the "Queen's sister Mutnodjme" (Aldred, "Journal of Egyptian Archaeology", vol. 43. Page 39 and Breasted's "Ancient Records", vol. III, Sections 22 and 28.) Haremhab thus became the king's brother-in-law and Ay's son-in-law. A comparatively long reign is usually attributed to Haremhab. The highest discovered date assigned to him is 59 years. None of the documents bear a king's name. This figure is in agreement, however, with Manetho's transcribers.
Neither the mummy of Akhenaten nor of Haremhab has been found. A mummy, once thought to be Akhenaten's is undoubtedly that of Smenkhkare (Aldred, "The End of the El-Amarna Period," in December 1957 "Journal of Egyptian Archaeology").
Manetho's Evidence Now let's consider what happened to the family of Akhenaten during the lifetime of Haremhab.
Africanus has correctly preserved Dynasty XVIII from Thutmose IV to a king named Ramesses. The variations of other writers will be considered later. Here is Africanus' record beginning with Thutmose IV:
A break in the list occurs here. Now let's examine Eusebius before proceeding further with Africanus.
Names of Rulers of Lengths of Reign Dates
according to Julius
Tuthmosis (IV) 9 918-909
Amenophis (Amenhotpe III) 31 909-878
Orus (Akhenaten) 37 878-841
Acherres 32 841-809
Rathos 6 809-803
Chebres 12 803-791
Acherres 12 791-779
Armesis 5 779-774
Ramesses (usually mislabeled "I") 1 774-773
Note the parallel reign of Cherres, beginning 794. This figure will be significant for dating Dynasty XXIII of Tanis later. The dating of Akhenaton's daughter. Beginning in 837, will be proved shortly.
Names of Kings of Lengths of Reign Dates
Dynasty XVIII from
Eusebius' Greek Text
Amenophis (III) 31 909-878
Orus (Akhenaten) 36 878-842
Achencherses, his daughter 12 (joint) 837-825
Athoris, her brother 39 842-803
Chencheres 16 803-787
Acherres 8 787-779
Cherres 15 (joint) 794-779
Armais 5 779-774
We should now consider other variants from Manetho, illustrated by this fragmentary copy.
Eusebius' account of Orus supports the archaeological record of 38 years for Amenhotpe III mentioned earlier:
Names of Kings of Lengths of Reign Dates
Dynasty XVIII from
Amenophis (III) 31 909-878
Orus (Akhenaten) 28 871-843
Achencherses, his —-
—- 16 803-787
Acherres 8 787-779
Cherres 15 794-779
Armais 5 779-774
Eusebius' Greek Manuscript B of the king list differs from the others. It has been misunderstood by some modern editors who have inserted, mistakenly, the figure 12 in place of 16 (that is, 841-825) for the reign of Achencherses, Akhenaten's daughter. They assumed that Eusebius has been incorrectly copied. But manuscript B of Eusebius plainly has 16. Because Cencheres also reigned 16 years, certain manuscript copies of Eusebius' original work have deleted his name and that of Athoris. (Compare Eusebius Werke, edited by Rudolph Helm, vol. I, pages 40-45 with Manetho, by W.G. Waddell, Fr. 53.)
Amenhotpe III 38 (from 909-871
Orus (Akhenaten) 28 (Armenian 871-843
What do these variants mean? They indicate that Manetho originally gave in detail the events surrounding the reigns of Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Smenkhkare and Ay! Now see how the year 837 — the end of Ay's reign — can be established from Josephus and the Book of Sothis.
It must first be remembered that Manetho, in his original work, presented to the world three vast tomes. These have been lost to the world. But before they perished many writers extracted material that, to them, appeared vital. Different writers viewed the multitude of Manetho's facts differently. Josephus considered certain events more important than did Africanus, for example; his dates for the reign of a king consequently might differ somewhat from Africanus. On occasion, whole reigns might be deleted as unimportant — a fact already noted for the first half of Dynasty XVIII.
Names of Josephus Lengths of Reign Dates
Amenophis (Amenhotpe III) 30 909-879
Orus (Akhenaten) 36 879-843
(or 38 in Eusebius) (879-841)
Acencheres (daughter of Orus) 12 837-825
(or 16 in Eusebius) (841-825)
Rathotis (her brother) 9 825-816
(14 missing years)
Acencheres I 12 802-790
Acencheres II 12 790-778
Harmais 4 778-774
Ramesses 1 774-773
Josephus' abstract contains several unusual features. First, it is not consecutive. There is a significant break between Orus and his daughter Acencheres.
The second divergency is the dating of Amenhotpe III. Africanus assigns him 31 years and ends his reign in 878. Josephus and Theophilus follow the Book of Sothis and end it in 879. There is no scribal carelessness here, only a difference in evaluating events. Amenhotpe III associated his son Orus on the throne toward the end of his 31st year — after 30 years and 10 months, to use Josephus' account. The question naturally arose, should the 31st year of Amenhotpe III be assigned to him, or to the son now that he had come to coregency? Africanus adopted the former method, dating it 878. Josephus, as well as Syncellus in the Book of Sothis, adopted the latter method, dating it 879.
The same variation may be noticed for the reigns of the kings Acencheres I and II and Harmais. Africanus, in these instances, began their regnal years one year earlier than Josephus; but assigned five to Armais. The total in each instance is the same.
Now see the Book of Sothis confirm the unusual dates 837-816 for Akhenaten's daughter and son — and consequently 837 for the end of Ay's reign.
Very little is known of the family of Akhenaten in later years. What is known is that Acencheres, the daughter of Akhenaten. had a brother Rathotis (or Rathos). His son is Achencheres I, the Chebres of Africanus. The next generation is Achencheres II, the Acherres II of Africanus. None of these names have been found as yet by archaeologists in Egypt. Yet they are important for their chronological value. If archaeologists had not been led astray they would have recognized the six successors of Orus as the six immediate predecessors of Piankhi, king of Nubia, of Dynasty XXV.
Names in Book Lengths of Reign Dates
39 Tuthmosis (IV) 39 952-913
40 Amenophthis (III) 34 913-879
41 Orus (Akhenaten) 48 879-831
42 Achencheres (a daughter) 25 841-816
43 Athoris 29 831-802
44 Chencheres 26 (note — 816-790
14 missing years in
45 Acherres 30 809-779
(or 8) (or 787-779)
46 Armais 9 779-770
Now consider the literary evidence for this restoration of Dynasty XVIII.
The El-Amarna Letters Amenhotpe III was an effeminate individual who purchased his pleasures by bestowing power on his friends. In his senile years he was sculptured "wearing a type of gown usually worn by women" (Cyril Aldred, "Bulletin of Metropolitan Museum of Art", Feb. 1957). Quite an about face since the days of the Queen of Sheba! The result of this personal aberration was the rise to prominence of non-royalty — the family of Ay, for example.
The reigns of Amenophis III and Akhenaten have become famous for the El-Amarna letters. The letters are official foreign correspondence. Some date from the time of Amenhotpe III, or before, though most pertain to the government of his son.
It is the common assumption of the majority of historians that these letters reveal internal events in Palestine at the time Joshua was invading the Holy Land. To make the Biblical account of the conquest chronologically correspond to the time of Akhenaten, historians had to displace the history of the book of Joshua. Some went so far as to assume that Joshua lived before Moses — since they had previously misdated the exodus in the later reign of Ramesses "the Great" or his son. Such foolish interpretations of history stand self-condemned. What the letters really indicate is an altogether different set of events.
The letters reveal that many of the coastal towns of Syria and Palestine, which had owed allegiance to Egypt, were torn asunder by internal strife or were being overrun. Local princes and Egyptian officials usually sought in vain for Egyptian assistance. What power expanded in Syria and Palestine during this period?
The Bible makes the answer plain. The Arameans.
The El-Amarna letters were written mainly in the days of Athaliah and Joash of Judah, and of Jehu and Jehoahaz of Israel. A few are from the earlier period of the Jehorams or before. The time setting is made clear in the Bible. Asa, in whose fifteenth year (937-936) Zerah invaded the land, died after a reign of 41 years. That brings history to 910. Jehoshaphat, his son succeeded him and reigned 25 years — to 885. This was the 24th year of Amenhotpe III.
After the death of Jehoshaphat "Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah ..., then did Libnah revolt at the same time" (II Chronicles 21:10). The events move rapidly: "And the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians that are beside the Ethiopians and they came up against Judah, and broke into it up against him" — Joash — "and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people" (II Chr. 24:23).
During these years Israel was being devastated by the Arameans, "Then Hazael king of Aram went up, and fought against Gath, and took it; and Hazael set his face to go to Jerusalem" (II Kings 12:18). Later, in the reign of Jehoahaz of Israel, "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Aram and into the hand of Ben-Hadad, the son of Hazael, continually .... For there was not left to Jehoahaz of the people save fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Aram destroyed them, and made them like the dust of threshing" (II Kings 13:3, 7).
Later, Israel was delivered from the power of Aram during the time of Jeroboam II.
In the El-Amarna letters "Aziru" is a king of "Amurru", with his capital at "Dumasqa". All historians recognize that Dumasqa is Damascus, the capital of Aram or Syria. "Amurru" is the common name for Aram. But who is Aziru in these cuneiform documents? Hazael! The "l" and the "r" are often linguistically interchanged. The "H" has been dropped, just as it has in Josephus' spelling of Hazael — "Azaelos." Compare the Biblical dropping of the "H" in Hadoram to Adoram (II Chron. 10:18 and I Kings 12:18).
Hazael posed as Pharaoh's obedient ally — as did most of the quarreling princes of the eastern Mediterranean coast. But he refused to render any act of submission. The king of Egypt had received many reports that Aram was not remaining loyal. In letter 162, addressed to Aziru or Hazael, the king of Egypt warns: "If thou for any object desirest to do evil, or if thou layest up evil words of hatred in thy heart, then wilt thou die by the axe of the king together with thy whole family. Render submission then to the king, thy lord, (and) thou shalt live. Thou knowest, indeed, that the king does not desire to go heavily against the whole land of Kinahhi" — Canaan. ("The Tell El-Amarna Tablets", by Samuel A.B. Mercer, vol. II, page 523.)
The letter was filled with empty words. Egypt had too many troubles of her own to afford costly expeditions to Syria.
Are the "Habiru" Hebrews? The letters to the Egyptian court also speak of the habiru — sometimes spelled khabiru. It was at first commonly assumed that it meant "Hebrew," and was indicative of Joshua's invasion of Palestine. But not one king or Canaan in Joshua's day has ever been found in the El-Amarna letters. Nor is there one word of the fall of Jericho. The conquest of Palestine recorded in the book of Joshua contrasts at every fundamental point with the world of the El-Amarna letters. Egypt was an important power in the eastern Mediterranean in the days of the kings of Israel and in the El-Amarna world, but "Joshua did not find any such Egyptian hold during his conquest" (Sir W.M. Flinders Petrie, "Palestine and Israel", page 56).
Scholars have long disputed over the import of the word "habiru", or "khabiru". From the letters it was known to be equivalent to the word "sa-qaz" which means "brigands," "plunderers," "bandits," and "cutthroats." On occasion the word "khabiru" "is also written with an ideogram signifying 'cutthroats,' " declared C.J. Gadd in "The Fall of Nineveh". The Hebrew root of "khabiru" is "khaber" (spelled "chaber" in "Young's Concordance"). It means a "companion," "member of a band," hence, in a derogatory sense, "bandit." The word appears in Isaiah 1:23 as "companions of thieves": and in Proverbs 28:24 as "companion of a destroyer."
The "khabiru" or "habiru" were the Aramean, Philistine, Moabite, Arabian bands of plunderers who were overrunning Phoenicia, Syria and Palestine in the days of Jehoram and Jehoahaz.
Much also has been written of the person of Abdi-hibba. Scholars assume he was the king of "Urusalim". That the name "Urusalim" is the cuneiform transcription of the name Jerusalem is plausible. But Abdi-hibba was no king of Jerusalem. In addressing the Egyptian court he wrote: "Verily, I am not a regent; I am an officer of the king, my lord. Behold I am a shepherd of the king, and I am one who bears the tribute of the king. Neither my father nor my mother, but the mighty hand of the king has set me in the house of my father" (Letter 288). The king is Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Again in Letter 287 he repeats: "Verily, this land of the city of Urusalim, neither my father nor my mother has given it to me." And in Letter 285: "Behold, I am not a regent, I am an officer of the king, my lord." Abdi-hibba was a Palestinian adventurer who had himself appointed an officer of Pharaoh to administer Egyptian affairs over a portion of the land that belonged to the city of "Urusalim". "Take silver and follow me," he was accused of saying (Letter 280).
It was commonplace for the petty kingdoms of Syria and Palestine to seek Egyptian "foreign aid" in their quarrels. Isaiah reveals what God thought of it:
"Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, That take counsel, but not of Me: And that form projects, but not of My spirit, That they may add sin to sin; That walk to go down into Egypt, And have not asked at My mouth; To take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh, And to take shelter in the shadow of Egypt! There- fore shall the stronghold of Pharaoh turn to your shame, And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your confusion. For his princes are at Zoan, And his ambassadors are come to Hanes. They shall all be ashamed of a people that cannot profit them, That are not a help nor profit But a shame, and also a reproach" (Isaiah 30:1-5, "Jewish Pub. Soc." trans.). And verse 7: "For Egypt helpeth in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I called her 'Arrogancy that sitteth still.' "
Dissension and jealousy sundered Egypt's government during the El-Amarna period. It was, in part, the result of infiltration of foreign influence during the reign of Amenhotpe III. The book of Sothis records of his day: "The Ethiopians, removing from the River Indus, settled near Egypt."
They brought with them not only the concept of marriages between uterine brothers and sisters, a practice already established in Egypt by the royalty of Sheba, but of the marriage of parents with children. Children of the union of a mother and son were deemed especially well born. Akhenaten inherited this concept through his father's marriage relationships. But the practice was revolting to many Egyptians of high rank. No known ruler among them since the time of the Ethiopian Nimrod had dared marry his own mother and beget children of her.
Akhenaten did it because he regarded himself as a new incarnation of Nimrod, the sun-god. Hence the name Orus applied to the king. Orus is another spelling of Horus, third king of Egypt, who was anciently assumed to be the first incarnation of Nimrod.
The claims of Akhenaten were so widely known that in El-Amarna letter 41 the Hittite king addresses Akhenaten by the name of "Huria" — the cuneiform of Horus.
Akhenaten made religion the cloak for his perversions. He pictured himself as the solar disk, and from his nude body eminated the beams of light that were to illuminate the world. The claims of the "heretic king" threatened the power of the Theban pontiffs. To retain their influence they first supported one, then another, or a third member of the royal family. Each change was presented to especially constructed idols which moved their heads — through secret manipulation — in approval or disapproval of the rival royal candidates.
After El-Amarna The climax to the El-Amarna age is usually thought to be the early death of Akhenaten and the return to Thebes of young king Tut, supported by the Theban priesthood. What is not understood by historians or archaeologists is the sundering of Egyptian political unity.
In the next chapter it shall be proved that Libyans penetrated Lower Egypt and after the death of Ay set up a dynasty of their own. Two generations later the political center of gravity shifted to Tanis in the Delta. Egypt consequently became a significant sea power in the eighth century before the present era. Greek classical records provide numerous references to Egyptian trade, settlement and warfare in the Mediterranean during this century.
Upper Egypt meanwhile saw the last kings of Dynasty XVIII retire to their homeland in Nubia. Dynasty XVIII arose in Ethiopian Nubia to oust the Hyksos. Its king Zera is called "Ethiopian," and its queen, "Queen of Sheba." (Sheba was a son of Cush, father of the Ethiopians.) When the religious controversy under Akhenaten developed, the religious and political pressures of the Upper Egyptians forced a withdrawal of the later members of the Dynasty to Napata in Nubia. Here, as we shall presently see, a branch of the family arose to new power in Nubia and Egypt in the person of Piankhi and reestablished the famous Ethiopian era in Egypt. But this Ethiopian period was not centered any longer in Thebes, but in Napata, Nubia.
Historians have never understood the connection between the early Ethiopian influence in Egypt and the later Ethiopian period, because they have separated them by over five centuries. This restoration of Egyptian history makes plain the connection.