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>Papyrus of Turin to be modified

2009 December 6 Leave a comment

>In c. 1820–1822 Italian Bernardino Drovetti discovered a papyrus in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes which contained a list of Egyptian kings on the reverse side. It lists them thru to about the 17th of 20th dynasty of Egypt which suggests that it may date from this period. It is unknown who the author was nor the source for the data recorded on the papyrus. The Turin Papyrus is written in hieratic, a script related to hieroglyphic.

Unfortunately it was transported to a Museum of Egyptology at Turin, Italy with inadequate care so it was unpacked in tiny pieces, many of which were lost. Reconstruction was attempted by Jean-François Champollion then Gustavus Seyffarth. Although this reconstruction was incomplete and possibly inaccurate in places.

Earlier this year visitors from the British Museum, Richard Parkinson and Bridget Leach, asked about the missing fragments. (Original source.)

After hours of discussion was Elvira D’Amicone, Egyptology from the ministry, who had the right intuition: if the papyrus fragments had come to the museum, the missing parts should not be too far away. Maybe we should look for them in the basement, in that mysterious warehouse that holds enough artifacts to set up another museum, the day that there will be money to deal with seriously. And indeed they were there, forgotten for over half a century in a closet: a compassionate hand had even included some of the two plates of glass, because it preserved without damage.

They found the lost fragments in the basement. And now the papyrus has been shifted to the British museum (as far as I can tell from the translation) for reconstruction.

This could lead to some interesting modifications to the received Egyptian chronology. I do not accept the current secular proposals for the various Egyptian pharaohs. And I think too much weight is given to Manetho. The Turin Papyrus may challenge both Manetho and modern reconstructions.

The Turin Papyrus does not appear to be written for a specific king, thus may be less likely to modify the data to be favourable to any ruler. It also includes material on the Hyksos who were not well liked by the Egyptians. Therefore there is some reason to consider it somewhat reliable. Nevertheless the author is reliant on the accuracy of his source material, and there is the general tendency for ancient writers to suggest greater antiquity of their nations over others.

Categories: Egyptology, pharaohs

>Dating of the Hammurabi Code

2009 May 24 6 comments

> When was the Code of Hammurabi written?

Similarities have been noted with the Law of Moses. For example in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia parallels are identified for Exodus 21:2, 15, 18, 22, 24, 28-32; 22:7,10; Leviticus 19:35f; 20:10; 24:19f; 25:39f; Deuteronomy 19:16f; 21:15f, 18f; 22:22; 24:1, 7.

Legal codes from ancient history can be helpful in understanding why specific laws existed. They can show us that a certain way of thinking was more widespread in the ancient world. It is claimed that Moses borrowed from Hammurabi because the latter antedates Moses. Other legal codes include those of Ur-Nammu and Eshnunna.

There is no intrinsic problem with the Bible having parallels to a prior code. The parallels may be because similar issues were being faced by the community. And the Bible claims to be historical, thus it interacts with nations surrounding it. God can approve of the practices of other nations or disapprove of them. Frequently we see the prophets condemning Israel for her actions which are worse than their pagan neighbours. Because God may approve or disapprove of a nations laws it is important to look at the differences as well as the similarities.

Nevertheless, I am not convinced that Hammurabi antedates Moses. I have previously mentioned my disagreement with secular ancient chronology.

Hammurabi was a king of Babylonia. Dating of the reign of Hammurabi is difficult and as has been noted several times, the chronology of ancient history is highly dependant on the chronology of Egypt. The chronology of the Egyptians is known to be a mess, even by those holding to the traditional dating. Alternate secular Egyptian dating systems have been proposed. Peter James, author of Centuries of Darkness states,

Numerous synchronisms have been drawn between Egypt and Mesopotamia, but many of these are based on unproved assumptions. Of those that are genuine, closer examination reveals that in many cases Mesopotamian chronology is actually dependent on Egyptian – and not the other way around. For example it is clear (Brinkman 1976) that the list of kings for the late Kassite period in Babylonia, conventionally 14th-13th centuries BC, has been heavily restored from Egyptian and Hittite evidence. (Hittite dating is directly dependent on that of Egypt.)

Scripture alone demands an Egyptian rewrite.

My knowledge of Babylonian history is limited. I am going to propose an alternative date for the code based on scriptural considerations and various secular synchronisms.

Pinches dates Hammurabi c. 2000 BC. Van De Mieroop dates him c. 1800 BC. Other suggestions based on shorter chronology suggest c. 1700 BC. Based on king lists Hammurabi son of Sin-mubalit son of Abil-Sin belonged to the First Babylonian Dynasty.

Following traditional dating we have the following (approximate) claims

  • 1750 BC in traditional Egyptian chronology corresponds to the 12th and 13th Egyptians dynasties
  • The first Babylonian dynasty ended with the fall of Babylon
  • The fall of Babylon is dated c. 1500–1600 BC which corresponds to the beginning of the 18th Egyptian dynasty

Following Scripture we have the following data

  • The very earliest date for the beginning of the Egyptian dynasties is c. 2200 BC
  • Moses led the exodus of the Israelites out from Egypt around the time of the 12th and 13th dynasties (which may also correspond to the 6th dynasty)
  • The 18th dynasty was of some duration. The beginnings of which are possibly about the time of Samuel and Saul

Comparing secular Egyptian and Babylonian synchronisms and and correcting the dates from the biblical data we have Hammurabi ruling about the time of Moses at the earliest.

While I am confident in the reduction of the date of the Hammurabi Code, I have not established significant synchronisms between Babylon and either Israel or Egypt. More data or a closer review of the data may lead to a more exact and more confident date.

This suggests that the the correspondence between the Hammurabi Code and the Law of Moses is unlikely due to the latter’s dependence on the former. The Hammurabi Code may be dependant on the Mosaic Law based on chronological considerations alone. Both codes could relate to underlying customs of the Ancient Near East. Or they both could have some relationship to prior laws. Many who hold to the Mosaic authorship of Genesis propose Moses had access to more ancient Hebrew records.

>Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

2007 September 29 22 comments

>The pharaoh who was in power when Moses fled Egypt died (Exodus 2:23). A subsequent pharaoh, perhaps the next, continued to oppress the Hebrews. Moses returned to Egypt c. 2513 AM. Moses appeared before Pharoah with a sign of a staff turning into a snake. This pharaoh had 2 magicians named Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3).

God sent 10 plagues over several months. They were the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, pestilence on the livestock, boils, thunder/ hail/ fire, locusts, darkness, and death of firstborn. The death of the firstborn was on the 13th or 14th of Nisan in the year 2514 AM.

~2,000,000 Hebrews and Egyptians left Egypt from Rameses and Sukkoth. They went thru the wilderness to Etham on the edge of the desert then to Pi-hahiroth. Pharaoh with his army caught up to them there at which point the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea but the pursuing army, including Pharaoh, drowned in the Red Sea.

Some of the places may prove difficult to identify but there is plenty of information given to help us identify the pharaoh. There are several catastophes which befell Egypt that there may be records of. Pharaoh died in the Red Sea and therefore his body was not mummified. His eldest son died so did not ascend the throne. It is possible that this pharaoh was the last in his family line. Egypt was also without an army for sometime.

Several persons have variably identified the pharaoh of the Exodus based on the biblical data. Some correlate the plagues to verses in the Ipuwer Papyrus, this may be so though the main theme of the poem seems to be a reversal of social order.

Various identities for this pharaoh are:

Neferhotep I

This identity is made by David Down. Neferhotep is a pharaoh of the 13th dynasty. The chronology of the 13th dynasty is difficult to untangle. Down places him as the last pharaoh of this dynasty before the Intermediate Period dominated by the Hyksos whom he identifies with the Amalekites as per Velikovsky who first proposed this. Neferhotep’s corpse has not been identified.

Tom-Taoui-Toth

This is the proposal by Immanuel Velikovsky. I am unable to identify him further though Velikovsky places him at the end of the middle kingdom which would be about the 13th dynasty.

Ka-Ankh-Re

Which in Greek would be Cencheres. Donovan Courville identifies a 13th dynasty pharaoh by this name. Neferhotep is also known by his throne name Khasekhemre and his brother Sobekhotep IV has the throne name Khaneferre; both names having some resemblance. Courville suggests that Brugsch identified Ka-Ankh-Re as Sobekhotep IV (or V). Charles Taylor agrees with Courville on KaAnkh-Re being the pharaoh of the Exodus.

Amenemhat IV

Alan Montogomery suggests that this is the pharaoh of the Exodus. Amenemhat was earlier than Neferhotep, the former belonging to the 12th dynasty, though possibly not by many years (< 100).

? Menrenre Nemtyemsaf II

Bruce Alan Killian suggests that the long reign of Pepe II corresponds to the birth and life of Moses for the first 80 years. He suggests that Pepe’s successor was the pharaoh who pursued the Hebrews and died in the Red Sea. He does not mention the pharaoh by name so Nemtyemsaf is my guess. Pepe II reigned during the 6th dynasty.

Dudimose I

Or Tutimaeus. This is suggested by Barry Setterfield based on Manetho who gives this pharaoh as the last one before the invasion of the Hyksos. Again the relationship to the other pharaohs is not immediately apparent because of the messy state of affairs with ancient Egyptian chronology and the multiplicity of names. Setterfield states Dudimose comes after Khaneferre whom he places at the time when Moses flees Egypt.

Amenhotep II

Curt Sewell proposes this pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. This is consistent with his identification of Moses adoptive mother as Hatshepsut, also of the 18th dynasty. My difficulty with this is Amenhotep’s body has been identified. Sewell claims that while the army is at the bottom of the Red Sea, the pharaoh did not follow them in and thus survived. While Exodus does not specifically state that pharaoh dies (though it is a reasonable inference), Psalm 136 does.

Conclusion

There have been multiple attempts at identifying the pharaoh of the Exodus. I have surveyed a few who take the biblical record seriously. We know that there were 10 plagues in the months prior to the Exodus and the Egyptian economy was devastated; there was a mass exodus of slaves and some of the natives from Egypt; and Pharaoh and his army drowned in the Rea Sea. I think that the identification of Sewell contradicts a scriptural passage, as mentioned above, which leaves the identities proposed as being the later kings on the 13th dynasty except Montogomery who suggests the 12 dynasty and Killian the 6th. The 12th and 13th dynasties were closely aligned and the 13th may not have lasted very long. The documentation of the 13th dynasty is in shambles which would not be unexpected if it ended in such disaster. Interestingly, Courville claims dynasties 6 and 12 were concurrent. While these chronologists are not independent, a not unreasonable inerrantist identification of the pharaoh of the Exodus is a late or final pharaoh of what is commonly identified as the 13th dynasty.

>Pharaohs of the Bible

2007 September 21 Leave a comment

>There several Pharaohs mentioned in the Bible. Many are unnamed and overlaps are not always certain. For example was the Pharaoh who spoke to Joseph at his father’s death the same one who had the dreams? There are also at least 4 women of royal blood; the princess who adopted Moses, the princess Bithiah who married Mered, the princess who married Solomon, and (the) Queen (of) Sheba.

Correlating the biblical mentions with the Egyptian records is difficult for several reasons. The Pharaohs having several names and the difficulty in translating these names is one of them. But the main difficulty comes from incorrect synchronisms. If dates are held more tightly than events, then poor correspondences will be accepted and strong ones resisted. Conversely, if the persons and events are reviewed closely then we may have to play more freely with the dates. Obviously if events match the dates actually do match, it is just that the dates are not those that are commonly held.

The Flood occurred in 1656 anno mundi (AM, year of the world). The early Egyptians are descendants of Mizraim (Mizraim is the Hebrew for Egypt). Mizraim was a son of Ham. Mizraim or his early descendants established Egypt. The ancient kingdom of Egypt postdates the Flood and probably postdates Babel. Establishing the time of Babel is more elusive. If the reference to Peleg corresponds to the Babel event, it possibly occurred shortly before or around the time of Peleg’s birth (1757 AM), certainly before his death (1996 AM).

If we take Peleg’s birth as the earliest reasonable time for the establishment of Egypt then Mizraim, born after the flood, would have been less than 100 years old. The dynasties of Egypt cannot predate this year. 1757 AM is c. 2200 BC (my reckoning). The first Pharaoh of Egypt, Menes, conventionally dated c.3000 BC, actually started his reign nearly 1000 years later.