If you think that history is all about the past … you’d better think again.
If you think the stories the Hebrew Bible had told about ancient Egypt was the whole truth … you’d better think once again.
And if you believe that ancient Egypt was ruled by pharaohs … then you’d better read the next lines
Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
Ancient Egypt knew no Pharaohs
The title might sound a bit strange and perplexing, but throughout the following series of articles I’m going to elaborate on the historical reasons why the rulers of ancient Egypt were called kings and not Pharaohs. It is a research that has taken many years of my life in which I hope to reveal that by straightening out this bizarre issue of pharaoh, the Israelite connection will eventually be exposed.
“Kings or pharaohs, what difference does it make?” some might argue.
Well, it would make a world of difference if we discovered that for thousands of years we’ve been living a myth, another twisted/misinterpreted Jewish tale that we continue to cling to and hold dear as the only irrefutable truth till this very day.
It would make a world of difference if we knew that what took place at that remote period of time in the ancient Near East, particularly in ancient Egypt and the Arab Peninsula has dramatically shaped, over the centuries and through our willful ignorance, the way we live today with all this web of political, ethnic and religious conflict and intolerance. It is only by unraveling the truth and exposing the myths of that past could we untangle this web of antagonism and belligerence we currently endure. Separating the truth from the myth is what we hope to achieve.
Ancient Egypt, the rise and demise
Egypt, a nation mistakenly known worldwide as the land of the pharaohs, is so embedded in history you can trace back its culture, spirituality and traditions for thousands of years way long before the world crossed the threshold of civilization; when ancient Egypt was building the great pyramids under a powerful, highly organized central government the world was still crawling out of its prehistoric ages
The thing that makes the ancient Egyptian kingdom stand out as a unique civilization in the ancient world history, besides the magnificent legacy of colossal wonders and engineering and the highly spiritual texts and moral teachings is the fact that the ancient Egyptians kept a solid and coherent documentation of their chronicles that covered the geo-political, socio-economic, military records and even covered the daily life activities in a way that left not much room for second guessing or speculation.
Civilization long shrouded in silence – David Roberts 1838
With the demise of ancient Egypt, the language of that civilization – hieroglyphs – that kept intact and thriving for well over three millennia was eventually declared extinct following the Ptolemaic and Roman period(332 BC- 395 AD)
After that, the ancient Egyptian monuments and texts had been shrouded in sheer silence and neglect. The great civilization that had once witnessed the first dawn of human conscience and helped to shape the human code of moral conduct turned into oblivion.
For the following 1500 years too many narratives and stories had been spawned seemingly trying to retell the story of ancient Egypt, not as it actually occurred but through interpretations and manipulations that somehow served the interests of the story tellers.
The story of ancient Egypt, the Israelite version
Of all the narratives that were told about ancient Egypt, the Hebrew Bible is the one narrative that managed to convince/deceive the world with its stories of some Pharaoh and Hebrew slaves that, it alone, monopolized the truth about the history of ancient Egypt.
Most of the scholars of the history of the ancient Near East for nearly two millennia relied primarily on the Bible as a scientific reference. And in doing so they simply followed what the Hebrew scribes wrote, or better yet tampered with in the history of ancient Egypt and blindly took it for granted.
As for the common people, who were illiterate, they fell prey to the rabbinic oral literature of Midrash and Mishnah that ceaselessly boasted about the infamous myth of Moses and pharaoh.
According to the book of Exodus, the king who ruled Egypt in Moses’ time was referred to as Pharaoh. He is addressed as Pharaoh 128 times. e.g:
When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian… [2:15]
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” [7:1]
When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry land. [15:19]
The world began to recognize Egypt, according to the Hebrew’s alleged narrative, as the land where pharaohs brutally reigned and enslaved the ancient Hebrews. Biblical Egypt was the land that witnessed the alleged devastating ten plagues, the fictional parting of the sea and the exodus of the Israelites.
But if the Israelites were in such a rush to depart from Egypt why and how would they wander in Sinai, part of Egypt and heavily protected by Egyptian military garrisons, for 40 years … funny eh!
Moreover, why does the whole of Egypt, specifically the desert of the Sinai Peninsula, remain archaeologically alien to the Israelites and their whole Exodus story?
So whenever Egypt was mentioned during the last two thousands of years, the word pharaoh would simultaneously pop up in the discourse thus adding more power, albeit deluding, to the Hebrew and Biblical designation of the rulers of ancient Egypt as pharaohs.
Ancient Egypt resurrected
It was not before 1822 when Jean-François Champollion, the French philologist managed to decipher the hieroglyphs in his arduous task and breakthrough of translating the Rosetta stone.
Thanks to this brilliant Champollion, the long muted and almost buried records and chronicles inscribed on stone and written on papyrus scrolls were resurrected and finally brought back to life.
What the predecessors thought of as mute masonry covered with some weird scribbling and coffins haunted with some kind of eternal curse began to attract eager historians and modern archeologists . Upon dusting off the ancient artifacts and temple inscriptions modern archeologists, and for the first time, began to listen to the stone and the papyri uttering the truth about the genuine story of ancient Egypt.
In the mid-nineteenth century the genuine version of the history of ancient Egypt and the Near East began to unravel as its true stories were being retold again.
Ironically enough, what the excavated records of ancient Egypt told the modern historians and archeologists was totally different from what the Hebrew narrative said or claimed to have taken place on the land of Egypt.
But what struck historians as a total surprise is the fact that ancient Egyptian records had no mention of any Israelites in Egypt, non-whatsoever, whereas the Hebrew Bible is replete with tales of Egypt. As the more of ancient Egypt texts and inscriptions were unraveled, the remoter from truth the Biblical narrative looked.
Interestingly, and as the historical findings and the non- stop archeological discoveries were in the process of resurrecting the true story of ancient Egypt the Biblical narrative kept on decomposing subjecting some of the dominant Israelite stories, like the exodus, to scientific doubts and second thoughts.
The Exodus story is currently refuted by prominent modern archeologists, many of whom are interestingly Israelis. Egyptologists now view the story of the Israelites’ exodus as a mere myth or as one of the ancient Israelite’s tales that had been somehow politically manipulated by the Hebrew scribes of the Bible.
The ancient Egyptian royal titulary
If we went back in time and tried to find how the word “Pharaoh” claimed that worldwide fame, we would undoubtedly have to stop before the Hebrew landmark story of the exodus from Egypt.
Was pharaoh the name of the Egyptian king, or was it his title or his epithet, that is one thing the Bible had not been clear about. But while such nuance could be appreciated in fictional works, it could never fit satisfactorily into a scientific historical account.
Tracing the etymology and the historicity of that word “Pharaoh” and for an avid reader and researcher of Egyptology who spends almost all of his weekends at the Egyptian museum in Cairo, I stumbled upon the most astonishing discovery.
I haven’t discovered a new royal mummy nor have I found the lost tomb of king Akhenaten, I simply found out, contrary to what everybody believed, that the history and the chronicles of ancient Egypt had no mention of pharaohs.
History shows that ancient Egypt only knew kings and sometimes queens but never pharaohs nor any mention of enslavement of Israelites. As a matter of fact; slavery was not a common practice in ancient Egypt and it was introduced into the late dynasties of ancient Egypt only after the Persian and the Roman conquest.
The old kingdom (2686-2181 BC) knew kings such as Djoser, Khufu and Teti , the middle kingdom ( 2055-1650 BC) had kings such as Senusret I and Senusret II and the new kingdom ( 1550-1069 BC) witnessed the topnotch kings such as Thutmose III, queen Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun and Usermaatre Setpenre ( Ramsses II )
Egyptian kings typically had five names, a Personal name (nomen) which was bestowed upon them at birth and another four names- Horus name, Nebty (“two ladies”) name, Horus of Gold, Throne name (praenomen),that were not given until they took the throne.
The final four names were bestowed upon the king to officially commemorate his transformation from a mortal to a deity. The birth name of the king seems to have remained very prominent in the king’s life. It was the birth name that was primarily used in the cartouche and the name by which the king was most commonly known.
King Tutankhamun royal cartouche with his coronation name
The coronation name inside a cartouche was usually accompanied with the title nesu-bity, “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” and the epithet neb tawy, “Lord of the Two Lands”, referring to upper Egypt and delta regions of Egypt.
For example, king Tutankhamun’s throne name was Neb-Kheperu-re, which means “Lord of Manifestations of Re and was customarily accompanied by the epithet “lord of the two lands” followed by the usual benediction “life, prosperity and health”
According to the ancient texts and papyri, high ranking officials like high priests, princes, commanders of the army… etc, addressed the king as the ruler of the crowns, beloved of the gods, lord of the diadems, living forever and forever… but never as Pharaoh.
Not so often kings of ancient Egypt were referred to as the magnificent in earth and heaven, lord of crowns and as “the sun in the sky” and this was the ultimate titulary that reflected the ascension of the king to the realm of deities.
Etymology shows that the word pharaoh is the Greek pronunciation of the compound word “pe-ro” or “pr –aa” which referred to the palace of the king or rather the great house and not necessarily the king himself. It’s a very controversial thesis; we don’t even know who came up with this hypothesis in the first place.
Obviously it was suggested by the early 19th century Egyptologists whose mindset was soaked up with Biblical narrative. The first generations of archeologists of the ancient Near Eastern history came and starting digging in Egypt and around the Levant hoping to trace back and corroborate the ancient stories of the Hebrew Bible not seeking to find out the historical truth be that as it may.
The staggering truth, after almost more than two centuries of archeological digging in Egypt and the Levant, is that the geography of the Hebrew Bible cannot and will not fit into the Egyptian nor the Palestinian territories. The case we have here before us is a unique case of lost geography and identity!
Some argue that during the eighteenth dynasty (sixteenth to fourteenth centuries BC) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler as is the case in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who reigned 1353 – 1336 BC, which is addressed to ‘Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health!.
But then again, that was not entirely correct, as shown in the letters of Amarna (Tablet correspondence between the Egyptian administration during the reign of king Akhenaten (1350-1334) and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru and also the state of international affairs between Egypt and the major powers of the Middle East, Babylonia, Mitanni and Assyria).
In the letters sent by the kings of Babylon and Assyria Akhentaen is addressed as the king of Egypt whereas in those sent by the Canaanite representatives he is addressed “To the King my lord, my sun, my god, the breath of my life… your slave and dust under your feet. At the feet of the King my lord, my sun, my god, the breath of my life, I bowed down seven times”
The Great House vs. the White House
Like we of today refer to the president of the United States and his inner circle of high officials as the white house, in the ancient world and especially amongst the Asiatic foreigners may be they referred to the mighty king of Egypt and his court of priests and commanders as the great house.
And just as the white house is neither the title nor the name of the president of United States likewise the “pr – aa” was not the name nor the title of the ruler of ancient Egypt.
Never was there a papyrus or an inscription on any wall or pylon of any Egyptian temple that showed the word pharaoh as a reference to the king himself. The name of the king, as the ancient Egyptian traditions decreed, was always enclosed in a royal cartouche.
And if we are to be challenged, like we had frequently been, with allegations of the presence of royal Cartouches encircling the word pr-aa, like may be that incident found in Kalabsha temple (Greco-Roman temple) … we always respond “foul play”
Kalabsha temple has been renovated/tampered with by scribes affiliated with the Greco-Jewish circle of power that was primarily behind the grand scale fraud of relocating the theater of the Exodus from its actual geography to the valley of the Nile in Egypt (this crime that has been growing like a snow ball and rolling from century to century distorting the whole history of the ancient Near East and thereby the whole world is to be exposed in the coming series of articles)
And finally to get a grasp of the meaning of “pr – aa” and when ancient Egyptians were inclined to use it, we could only discern that in the following lines from a hymn to the god Ra taken out from the ancient coffin texts or what is known as the book of the dead.
“Homage to thee …
o thou lord of brightness
thou who art at the head
of the great house …
prince of night and of thick darkness …
he comes to thee being a pure soul …
..o, grant thou unto him
His mouth that he may speak therewith,
At the season when there are clouds
And darkness …
Verses from the ancient Egyptian coffin texts
Some of the comments:
it does not penetrate your thick skull that there was not Mosses, not jewish slaves in Egypt and all current ‘history” is crap invented by ASKE – NAZI crimi8nals just like lies about alleged holocaust.Aske _- nazis murderers killed more than 10 millions Ukrainians by starving them more than 80 million Russians and started all wars and revolutions in the past 700 yearsand continue to this day
The Shasu are not the same as the Israelites so that is incorrect. Shasu was merely a name for people who traveled by foot, generally herders. This could have included Israelites, but was certainly not exclusive to them. Outside of this, we see no permeation of Jewish custom in Egyptian society. How could this be? I assume you speak of the tempest stela, which also provides no proof of Israelites or slaves. It could be used as bad evidence that the exodus took place in that there appears to be a very bad storm that is blamed on a great god, but outside of this there are no parallels. These connections you make can be easily refuted and as a result are not proof. They are merely poor evidence on which you make major assumptions. They could just as easily be used to give evidence to something else.
I am having to rethink a lifetime of connection with the history of Egypt. Of course mine was more connection with the common people, the arts, and spirit, the way people lived. I never dreamt I was royalty reincarnated or such. At 14 my favourite ever novel was “The Egyptian” by Mika Waltari.
And when I was a young woman, my idea of a romantic afternoon was being caught in a snowstorm in the Royal Ontario Museum with a date, and of course a picnic. I spent hours immersed in walls of stolen hieroglyphics, IE one from the tomb of Hatshepsut, just thinking of those times so long ago.
I watched the Hollywood pap movies, starved for visuals but never felt I was watching the truth. But then, all my life I had a profound distrust of anything thrust upon people, just a suspicious sort and it has proven me right over the years.
And now this. THank you for your work here. A LOT to think about and absorb. If you do not mind, I would like to post this on my blog because I have a few readers who are interested in the past.
And btw, consider, if the Israelis are so desperate to control media now, as they have attempted regarding Gaza, or WW2, or WW1 or ANYTHING they have wanted to control, (yeah, I am a bit of a revisionist if, by revisionist you mean undoing the lies and putting the truth back up), why not the Bible? They rewrite whatever they can for their plans…. just as they rewrote the book they now uses as a real estate deal with God to take over the area of Palestine.
But I digress… thank you for your work.
All quite interesting, Dr. Ezzat. Thx for this thought provoking article & the other I just read in VT.
Yes, quite true. It seems lies are part of their existence. They also commissioned the “Scofield Bible” in the early 20th Century, with many made-up details serving their interests, eventually entering them info the actual Bible.in the ’60’s.
I’m not familiar with the Qur’an, but how do most Muslims react to what you write here considering they base it on Judaic teachings.
Also, no way is the Jewish Bible the most ancient of scriptures, as someone has written below, for the “Bhagavad Gita” of Hinduism, meaning the Song of God, was in existence at least 5000 yrs BC.
You read Waltari? Then you know of the Aten worship.
Some scholars, such as Sigmund Freud, have pointed out the obvious implausibilities on the Moses story and have sugge3sted that “Moses”, an Egyptian word meaning “Prince” may have been another name for the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV), and the story of the Exodus a highly romanticized telling of his attempted return from exile, with the usual spin so that failure to reclaim his throne is sold to later generations as a symbolic victory.
The whole point is, the “jews” are exiled ATEN worshippers who “morphed” from being peace-lovers to venomous war-mongers from resentment over being ousted from power in Egypt. Palestine was a PROVINCE of Egypt, so how could anyone “escape” to it and “conquer” it?! They were EXILED to it.
Moses was “raised” as an Egyptian Prince, because Moses WAS an Egyptian Prince. As a matter of FACT, the “Hebrews” are EGYPTIAN.
The Hebrews, the participants of the fabled Exodus, were EGYPTIAN refugee worshipers of ATEN, the MONOTHEISTIC Egyptian LIGHT God.
After Amenhotep IV aka Akenhaten elevated Aten to THE god of Egypt (THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME)
the priests of Amon and the lesser gods worked to undermine Aten. Upon the death of Pharoh Akenhaten, the “ONE” god, Aten, was
overthrown. The temples and all trace of Aten were pulled down and erased. The followers of Aten were persecuted and harrassed.
After some years of this, the followers of Aten made an “exodus” (a going out) from Egypt, to the COLONIES of Egypt in Palestine.
NOTE: It is not called a HOMECOMING or RETURN, as it would have been if the participants were SEMITES originally from Palestine.
They THEMSELVES termed it an EXODUS. [EX out of, from, and HODOS, way]
This is people who WERE Egyptian and LEFT, went OUT OF Egypt.
The followers of Aten wandered in the desert for years (40?). They assimilated legends, myths, and People, into their Religion and Tribe.
The first generation of refugees passed on, and their religion morphed from a “loving, peace, LIGHT and enlightened god”
to a vengeful, resentful, scab-picking War god.
THIS is why there is NO Egyptian archeological evidence of a Jewish/Semitic presence OR exodus.
The Exodus consisted of EGYPTIANS leaving Egypt in the face of religious persecution that included the complete erasure of the God of the Exodus, ATEN.
How else could one explain what is clearly written in the Bible itself:
For millenia the Jews(Egyptian Refugees) have WAILED about their abject slavery under “Torturous, Inhumane” conditions in Egypt.
Name ONE other “religion” that has a HOLIDAY celebrating the genocide of the CHILDREN of their opponents?
THAT is what “Passover” is. They are celebrating the deaths of the First Born children of the Egyptians.
More then that, they are celebrating revenge on the Worshipers of Aton for overthrowing their god Aten.
Let us take a little look at the abject, “slaves” in Egypt:
How is it that “impoverished, abject slaves” have lambs to slaughter, flocks and herds?
Exodus c.12 v.21
Exodus c.12 v.32&38
Exodus c.35 v.22-23
How is it that “abject impoverished slaves” have neighbors with GOLD and SILVER and JEWELS to LOAN to these “slaves”
Exodus c.3 v.22
Exodus c.11 v.2
Exodus c.12 v.35-36
The god ATEN was overthrown @ 1240 B.C.
After years of persecution the followers of Aten left Egypt IN AN EX-HODOS @ 1210 B.C.
arturjotaefartur felisberto says:
Pharaoh, meaning “Great House”, originally referred to the king’s palace, but during the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479–1425 BC) in the New Kingdom, after the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, became the form of address for a person who was king and the son of the god Ra. “The Egyptian sun god Ra, considered the father of all pharaohs, was said to have created himself from a pyramid-shaped mound of earth before creating all other gods.” (Donald B. Redford, Ph.D., Penn State) 
The term pharaoh ultimately was derived from a compound word represented as pr-ꜥ3, written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr “house” and ꜥꜣ “column”. It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-aa ‘Courtier of the High House’, with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace. From the twelfth dynasty onward the word appears in a wish formula ‘Great House, may it live, prosper, and be in health’, but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person.
The earliest instance where pr-aa is used specifically to address the ruler is in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who reigned c. 1353–1336 BCE, which is addressed to ‘Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health!. During the eighteenth dynasty (sixteenth to fourteenth centuries BCE) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler. About the late twenty-first dynasty (tenth century BCE), however, instead of being used alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles before the ruler’s name, and from the twenty-fifth dynasty (eighth to seventh centuries BCE) it was, at least in ordinary usage, the only epithet prefixed to the royal appellative.
From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr-ꜥꜣ on its own was used as regularly as hm.f, ‘Majesty’. The term therefore evolved from a word specifically referring to a building to a respectful designation for the ruler, particularly by the twenty-second dynasty and twenty-third dynasty.
For instance, the first dated instance of the title pharaoh being attached to a ruler’s name occurs in Year 17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly Annals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun priesthood is dated specifically to the reign of Pharaoh Siamun. This new practice was continued under his successor Psusennes II and the twenty-first dynasty kings. Meanwhile the old custom of referring to the sovereign simply as pr-aa continued in traditional Egyptian narratives.
By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed to have been pronounced *par-ʕoʔ whence comes Ancient Greek φαραώ pharaō and then Late Latin pharaō. From the latter, English obtained the word “Pharaoh”. Over time, *par-ʕoʔ evolved into Sahidic Coptic prro ⲡⲣ̅ⲣⲟ and then rro (by mistaking p- as the definite article prefix “the” from Ancient Egyptian pꜣ).
The Maori of New Zealand tell a different story.
They say they originally were from Assyria
They say they had to leave Assyria
because of famine.
They went to Egypt where they hired onto construction
projects. They were known as great builders.
After a time they tired of Egypt.
They had a great leader named Mohi.
After several plagues which the Egyptians associated
with them, they returned to Assyria.
They overpopulated their old homeland in Assyria
They went north through the land of the
and Scythians then west
The Maori claim to be Brown Maoris.
They claim that white Maoris constantly harassed
them on their way west and would
not let them settle.
Maori Symbolism(1926) by Etta Rout
you really need to check out the work of alan wilson and baram blackett as well as the history of the stone of destiny…the ten tribes included the Welsh/Cymru people who trace their lineage back to solomon and back even before him to moses…also, the stone of destiny, from the strata of Bethel somehow made its way to Tara then to Westminster Abbey before being stolen in the 50s by Scottish nationalists
history is much more complex and palpable than you portray it here. btw, i have only mentioned a small sampling of the evidence suggesting the true Israelites were in Wales until outsiders usurped the kingdom around 1300
also, any archaeological dates relating to egypt are completely made up because of fudge factors added into the carbon dating formulas…veilikovsky should be a good resource as wells as wilson and blackett
THE FAKE JEWS CREATED THE MASONS AND ALL SECRET SOCIETIES NOT CREATED BY THE MONEYCHANGERS WERE TAKEN OVER BY 1717 AND ALL NEW ONES WERE CREATED BY THEM. THIS ISN’T BASHING. THIS IS SAYING, “THE TORA” IS HEBREWISM. A DEAD RELIGION. THE NEW TALMUD RELIGION CALLED JUDAISM IS A REACTIONARY RELIGION TO CHRISTIANITY. CHRISTIANITY IS OLDER THAN JUDAISM.
Paul Moore says:
For years, the popular media has mocked the biblical accounts of Joseph, Moses, the Passover, and the Exodus as being completely incompatible with standard Egyptian chronology. Year after year, we have been told by numerous scholars that events recorded in the books of Genesis and Exodus are nice legends devoid of any historical or archaeological merit.
However, a new wind is blowing. An emerging pool of scholars, representing diverse backgrounds, has been openly calling for a drastic reduction in Egyptian chronology. Such a reduction would serve to line up the historical and archaeological records of Egypt and the Old Testament. Surprisingly, there is a substantial amount of evidence to warrant a significant reduction of Egyptian history. And by doing so, the reliability of Genesis, Exodus, and the entire Old Testament will have to be reconsidered as a viable source of historical truth.
Advocates of chronological revision
Those who advocate a revision of orthodox Egyptian chronology are admittedly in the minority, but their credentials and scholarship are highly esteemed. David Rohl, author of Test of Time, suggests ‘Ramses II should be dated to the tenth century BC—some three hundred and fifty years later than the date which had been assigned him in the orthodox chronology.’1 Peter James and four other scholars published the book Centuries of Darkness.2 They claim that the dates of Egyptian dynasties need to be reduced by hundreds of years, specifically Dynasties 21–24. Dr Colin Renfrew, professor of archaeology at Cambridge University, wrote a foreword to this book:
This disquieting book draws attention … to a crucial period in world history, and to the very shaky nature of the dating, the whole chronological framework, upon which our current interpretations rest…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.3
Sir Alan Gardiner, an authority on Egyptian history, admits to the inherent problems surrounding Egyptian chronology:
Even when full use has been made of the king lists and of such subsidiary sources as have survived, the indispensable dynastic framework of Egyptian history shows lamentable gaps and many a doubtful attribution …What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters.4
Last year, David Down (who also wrote the very relevant item ‘False History—out with David and Solomon’) and Dr John Ashton wrote Unwrapping the Pharaohs: How Egyptian Archaeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline. Down has performed archaeological research in Egypt, Israel, and the Middle East for nearly half a century. In their book, they propose a revised chronology that harmonizes Egyptian and Old Testament history.
Reasons for questioning the traditional Egyptian timeline
An emerging pool of scholars, representing diverse backgrounds, has been openly calling for a drastic reduction in Egyptian chronology.
Supposedly, lunar and solar eclipses have been discovered to perfectly match the established dates of Egyptian chronology. This is simply untrue. The concept of astronomical fixation is not based on celestial eclipses but on the ‘Sothic Cycle’. However, the Sothic Cycle is mentioned nowhere in Egyptian texts.5 There are references to ‘the rising of Sothis’ which has been assumed to have been the sighting of the bright star Sirius. The real issue is that many modern scholars theorize that the ancient Egyptians were slightly off in their calendar keeping, and when corrected in light of modern science, the dates line up accordingly. Yet the Egyptians were able to orient their pyramids to within a fraction of a degree to the north, south, east, and west. It is more likely that the Egyptians were meticulous timekeepers. Thus, in Centuries of Darkness, James and his four fellow scholars write, ‘…There are good reasons for rejecting the whole concept of Sothic dating as it was applied by the earlier Egyptologists.’ (See also our Journal of Creation article, Fall of the Sothic theory: Egyptian chronology revisited.)
Another reason for questioning the traditional timeline is Manetho, an Egyptian priest who wrote a history of Egypt in the third century BC. Many consider Manetho’s writings to be indisputable fact. He was skilled at deciphering the hieroglyphs and had access to inscriptions, documents, and other valuable artifacts. However, two problems emerge. First, Manetho was writing hundreds, even thousands of years after many of the actual events. Second, none of Manetho’s writings exist.6 The only source we have for Manetho’s writings are some of his statements that have been quoted by much later historians such as Josephus, Africanus, Eusebius, and Syncellus.
Historical sources for Egyptian chronology
The Egyptian evidence consists of numerous inscriptions, texts, papyrus documents, and artifacts. Although it is very helpful, this evidence provides an incomplete picture of Egyptian history.
The ancient writings of Herodotus, Manetho, Josephus, Africanus and Eusebius provide added historical insight. Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, traveled to Egypt in the 5th century BC and interviewed priests and other knowledgeable individuals. Manetho, as stated above, composed a history of Egypt for the library at Alexandria in the 3rd century BC. Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, quoted from Manetho when writing his historical anthologies in the first-century AD. Africanus and Bishop Eusebius, renowned historians writing in the third and fourth centuries AD respectively, also quoted Manetho and wrote about Egyptian history. However, all of these highly esteemed historians often disagree with one another in the calculation of Egyptian chronology.
Because of the discordant nature of Egyptian chronology, it is impossible to present a comprehensive list of dates, pharaohs, and dynasties. Sir Alan Gardiner wrote, ‘Our materials for the reconstruction of a coherent picture are hopelessly inadequate.’ As a result, we must cross reference the Egyptian accounts with other accurate historical sources. Biblical and Assyrian chronology offer highly consistent dates that can be utilized to rectify many of the ambiguities of Egyptian history. In other words, if Old Testament and Assyrian historical records significantly overlap, then a revision of Egyptian chronology would be perfectly logical in order to harmonize with two independent reliable sources.
Noah’s link to Egypt
The Hebrew name for one of Noah’s grandsons is Mizraim (Genesis 10:6). It is no coincidence that modern Egyptians call themselves Misr, which is a derivative of Mizraim. According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s grandson, Mizraim,7 is the father of the Egyptians. In a revised chronology, Egypt comes into existence soon after the dispersion from Babel, around 2100 BC. Eusebius, the famous 4th century AD historian, writes:
Egypt is called Mestraim by the Hebrews; and Mestraim lived not long after the flood. For after the flood, Cham (or Ham), son of Noah, begat Aeguptos or Mestraim, who was the first to set out to establish himself in Egypt, at the time when the tribes began to disperse this way and that…Mestraim was indeed the founder of the Egyptian race; and from him the first Egyptian Dynasty must be held to spring.8
In the traditional chronology, a pre-dynastic period of approximately 2,000 years precedes the first Egyptian dynasty. Genesis establishes a much shorter period of time. In addition, the 1988–1989 annual report of the Oriental Institute of Chicago published a summary of extensive archaeological research by Bruce Williams. Williams re-examined discoveries related to the pre-dynastic period and concluded:
Both articles are part of an expanding body of evidence that links the period once known as ‘predynastic’ so firmly to the ages of the pyramids and later, that the term should be abandoned.9
Williams has published several articles in archaeology journals, and his modern research appears to confirm the Genesis account.
Abraham visits Egypt
The biblical date for the Exodus is approximately 1445 BC. Exodus 6:4 and Galatians 3:16–17 tell us that the Lord made a covenant with Abraham 430 years earlier, around 1875 BC. Not long after this date, Abraham traveled to Egypt to escape a severe famine in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:10). Abraham’s visit did not go unnoticed, as Pharaoh’s officials reported to their king that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was extremely beautiful. Out of fear, Abraham told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister. As a result, Pharaoh temporarily inducted Sarah into his harem and paid Abraham many expensive gifts. However, the Lord struck Pharaoh’s house with plagues causing him to release her upon discovering that she was actually Abraham’s wife.
Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31). From 1922 to 1934, Sir Leonard Woolley discovered it to be the first civilization10 with a superior knowledge of astronomy and arithmetic. In addition, the Sumerian civilization invented writing, composed dictionaries, and calculated square and cube roots.11 Woolley’s discoveries appear to corroborate the writings of Josephus concerning Abraham’s visit to Egypt Josephus writes about Abraham:
He communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt.12
In a revised chronology, Abraham would have visited Egypt when Khufu (aka Cheops) was Pharaoh. Before Khufu, the early Egyptian pyramids were fantastic architectural structures, but they were not perfectly square or exactly oriented to all four points on a compass. However, when Khufu built his masterful pyramid, there appears to have been an explosion of astronomical and mathematical expertise. Khufu’s pyramid was perfectly square, level, and orientated to the four points of the compass.
When placed in the proper dynasty, Abraham’s visit to Egypt may have been the catalyst that sparked an architectural revolution in Egyptian history.
Joseph rises to power in Egypt
Dynasty 12 was one of the high points in Egyptian history. By a revised chronology, Joseph would have risen to power under Sesostris I during this dynasty. According to Genesis, Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold him to Midianite traders and these traders sold Joseph to an Egyptian officer named Potiphar. Eventually, through a period of trials and tribulations, the Lord enabled Joseph to rule over Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.
Sesostris I is known to have had a vizier, or prime minister, named Mentuhotep who possessed extraordinary power Egyptologist, Emille Brugsch, writes in his book Egypt Under the Pharaohs, ‘In a word, our Mentuhotep…appears as the alter ego of the king. When he arrived, the great personages bowed down before him at the outer door of the royal palace.’13 Brugsch’s description appears to corroborate Joseph’s status in Genesis 41:43, ‘He (Pharaoh) had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, ‘Bow the knee’: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.’
Joseph’s ultimate claim to fame was his ability to interpret dreams. The Egyptians attached significant importance to dreams. Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s perplexing dreams to mean that seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of the most severe famine. Convinced by Joseph’s interpretation, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to supervise the gathering of grain during the seven years of plenty.
Two clues from Egyptian inscriptions appear to confirm the Genesis account. First, a large relief on ‘Hungry Rock’ states, ‘…Because Hapy [the river god] had failed to come in time in a period of seven years. Grain was scant, kernels were dried up, scarce was every kind of food…’14
Second, a tomb belonging to Ameni, a provincial governor under Sesostris I, says:
No one was unhappy in my days, not even in the years of famine, for I had tilled all the fields of the Nome of Mah…thus I prolonged the life of its inhabitants and preserved the food which it produced.12
Hebrew slaves in Egypt
In the traditional chronology, the Egyptian oppression of Hebrew slaves would have occurred in the 18th dynasty. The problem is there is little to no historical evidence of Hebrew slaves in Egypt at this time. However, when placed in the 12th dynasty under a revised chronology, there is substantial evidence for Israelite slave laborers in Egypt.
Dr Rosalie David, in charge of the Egyptian department of the Manchester Museum, writes about Semitic slavery in Kahun during the second half of the 12th dynasty:
It is apparent that the Asiatics were present in the town in some numbers, and this may have reflected the situation elsewhere in Egypt. It can be stated that these people were loosely classed by Egyptians as ‘Asiatics’, although their exact homeland in Syria or Palestine cannot be determined … The reason for their presence in Egypt remains unclear.15
The Bible makes it quite clear why the Israelite slaves resided in Egypt:
Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph, and he said to his people, ‘Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we’…Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens…And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage… (Exodus 1:8-14).
Dr Rosalie David also writes about the slave presence at Gurob, Egypt:
The scattered documentation gives no clear answer as to how or why the Asiatics came to Egypt in the Middle Kingdom…There is nevertheless firm literary evidence that Asiatic slaves, women and children were at Gurob.16
Another piece of circumstantial evidence that supports the biblical account is the existence of pyramids built with mud bricks and straw during this dynasty. Amenemhet III, a pharaoh whose statues are sour-faced and cruel-looking in appearance, was likely the Pharaoh who answered the complaining Hebrew supervisors, ‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before Let them go and gather straw for themselves (Exodus 5:7).’
Another tantalizing piece of circumstantial evidence was the discovery of boxes beneath the floors of houses excavated in Kahun. Sir Flinders Petrie excavated a number of these boxes which contained the skeletons of babies up to three months old, sometimes up to three in a box.17 It is plausible that these baby skeletons are the bones of Hebrew babies killed by Pharaoh’s direct orders in an attempt to limit their population (Exodus 1:16). However, one particular baby boy would escape Pharaoh’s death sentence and change the course of Hebrew history.
Moses is born
According to the Book of Exodus, the baby Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter while she was bathing at the river. His parents defied Pharaoh’s order and left his destiny in the Lord’s hands, placing him in a basket to be discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter. Many consider this to be a nice story, but completely unrealistic. After all, what Egyptian princess would adopt a Hebrew slave child and offer to make him the next Pharaoh?
However, if you place Moses in the 12th dynasty, the family history of the Pharaonic court appears to line up.18 Amenemhet III had two daughters, but no sons have been positively identified. Amenemhet IV has been proposed as the son of Amenemhet III, but he could just as easily have been the son of Sobekneferu, one of the daughters of Amenemhet III. Amenemhet IV is a very mysterious figure in Egyptian history and may have been a co-regent of Amenemhet or Sobekneferu.
Josephus wrote concerning Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Having no child of her own…she thought to make him her father’s successor.’ In addition, Dr Donovan Courville has proposed Sobekneferu as the foster mother of Moses. It is plausible since there is no historical record of Sobekneferu having a biological son. If Sobekneferu was the foster mother of Moses, then the biblical account of her bathing by the riverside would make sense. The river god Hapy was the fertility god of Egypt, and Sobekneferu would have likely been observing a religious ritual in the river. Perhaps the appearance of a baby floating in the river would have been interpreted as a direct answer to her prayer for a child.
Exodus from Egypt
In a revised chronology, Neferhotep I was likely the Pharaoh of the Exodus in the 13th dynasty. Exodus 7:10 tells us that Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh ‘… and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.’ Pharaoh was not impressed ‘… so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents (Exodus 7:11–12).’ In the Liverpool Museum there is a magician’s rod that hails from this same period in Egyptian history.19 The rod is in the form of a long cobra Perhaps the magicians practiced some form of hypnotic power that transformed the cobra rods into the appearance of real snakes, or applied sleight of hand to substitute a real cobra for the rod.
The ten plagues are probably one of the most famous aspects of the Exodus story. If the plagues were historical events as recorded by Moses, then there should be some fragment of evidence describing their catastrophic consequences. In fact, there is a papyrus in the Leiden Museum in Holland which provides a graphic portrayal eerily reminiscent of the biblical account. There is no consensus among archaeologists as to when it was originally penned An excerpt reads:
… Plague stalks through the land and blood is everywhere … Nay, but the river is blood. Does a man drink from it? As a human he rejects it. He thirsts for water … Nay, but gates, columns and walls are consumed with fire…Nay but the son of the high-born man is no longer to be recognized … The stranger people from outside are come into Egypt … Nay, but corn has perished everywhere…Everyone says ‘there is no more.’20
(See also The ten plagues of Egypt: miracles or ‘Mother Nature’?, which also thoroughly refutes the popular ‘algal bloom’ theory).
The final plague cut Pharaoh to the heart. The Lord struck down all the firstborn in each Egyptian family at midnight. The Hebrews were warned of this horrific disaster and Moses ordered them to kill a lamb and splash its blood on their doorposts. The Destroyer would pass over every home with the blood of the lamb. It is quite significant that Neferhotep’s son, Wahneferhotep, did not succeed his father on the throne. Instead, Neferhotep I was succeeded by his brother Sobkhotpe IV ‘who occupied the throne which his brother had recently vacated.’21 To this day, historians are unable to pinpoint the reason why the son of Neferhotep I did not succeed him. Perhaps a closer look at the biblical account is necessary.
Another piece of very interesting circumstantial evidence is the sudden departure of Kahun’s inhabitants. Dr Rosalie David writes:
It is evident that the completion of the king’s pyramid was not the reason why Kahun’s inhabitants eventually deserted the town, abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses …The quantity, range, and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind in the houses may suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated.22
The evidence appears to confirm Exodus 12:33 which states, ‘And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste…’
But what happened to the mighty Egyptian army? According to the Bible, Pharaoh pursued the fleeing Israelites with his army as they miraculously crossed the Red Sea. However, the Egyptian army ended up at the bottom of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:28). It is no coincidence that the mummy of Neferhotep I has never been found.
The Hyksos mystery solved
Also, archaeologists and other scholars have long puzzled over the rapid occupation of Egypt by the mysterious Hyksos without a military confrontation. Those scholars advocating a revised chronology have identified the Hyksos with the Amalekites, who attacked the Israelites fleeing from Egypt. It is plausible that the Amalekites flowed into Egypt without resistance because of God’s decimation of the Egyptian army under the Red Sea.
… when placed at the proper time, there is an abundance of historical and archaeological evidence to confirm the books of Genesis and Exodus.
The identification of the Hyksos with the Amelekites would explain the otherwise strange passage ‘Amalek was the first of the nations’ (Numbers 24:20), and why an Egyptian would be ‘servant to an Amalekite’ (1 Samuel 30:13). This makes sense in the revised chronology where the Amalikites ruled the mighty Egyptian empire.
Their current obscurity fulfils God’s prophecy to Moses, ‘I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven’ (Exodus 17:14). Thus hardly anyone today has even heard of them, let alone their former pre-eminence The physical extermination (see also Was this a war crime?) was first fulfilled in the time of Saul, but he disobeyed God (1 Samuel 15), so the Amalekites still caused mayhem in David’s time so he practically finished the job (1 Samuel 30).
There is a story of an older, well-respected archaeologist digging next to a young archaeologist at Gezer, Israel.23 The young archaeologist was mocking the historical reliability of the Bible when the older archaeologist quietly responded, ‘Well, if I were you, I wouldn’t rubbish the Bible.’ When the young archaeologist asked ‘Why?’ he replied, ‘Well, it just has a habit of proving to be right after all.’
At this time of year, Christians will be bombarded with shows and magazine articles that portray the biblical accounts of Joseph, Hebrew slavery, Moses, and the Exodus as legend and myth As we have seen, however, when placed at the proper time, there is an abundance of historical and archaeological evidence to confirm the books of Genesis and Exodus.
Synchronizing the biblical timeline with a revised Egyptian chronology will require more testing, research, hard work, and careful scholarship Presupposing biblical accuracy and applying professional research standards, a number of scholars are off to a promising start Dr Clifford Wilson, former Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology, said it best:
I know of no finding in archaeology that’s properly confirmed which is in opposition to the scriptures. The Bible is the most accurate history textbook the world has ever seen.24
Logistics of the Exodus
How did they build the Great Pyramid?—an architect’s proposal
1. Rohl, David A Test of Time: The Bible: from Myth to History, p. 128, Century Limited, London, UK, 1995; see also review by John Osgood, Journal of Creation 11(1):33–35, 1997. Return to text.
2. James, Peter Centuries of Darkness, pp. XV–XVI, Pimlico, London, UK, 1992. Return to text.
3. James, ref. 2, p. 39. Return to text.
4. Gardiner, Allan Egypt of the Pharaohs, p. 53, Oxford University Press, London, UK, 1964. Return to text.
5. Ashton, J. and Down, D Unwrapping the Pharaohs: How Egyptian Archaeology Confirms The Biblical Timeline, p. 74, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2006. Return to text.
6. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 73. Return to text.
7. Hebrew מצרים (mitsrayim) John Gill’s commentary, available in the Online Bible, states, ‘The word is of the dual number, and serves to express Egypt by, which was divided into two parts, lower and upper Egypt.’ Return to text.
8. Waddell, History of Egypt and Other Works by Manetho: The Aegyptiaca of Manetho, pp. 8–9. Return to text.
9. Sumner, William ‘Scholarship Individual Research,’ The Oriental Institute Annual Report 1988–1989, p. 62, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 1990. Return to text.
10. Obviously, it was not the first civilization, but the first ‘re-civilization’—after the Flood. Return to text.
11. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 201. Return to text.
12. Whiston, W., Josephus’ Complete Works, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, chapter VIII, para. 2. Return to text.
13. Breasted, James A History of Egypt, p. 162, Scribner and Sons, New York, NY, 1954. Return to text.
14. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 84. Return to text.
15. David, R The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh’s Workforce, p. 191, Guild Publishing, London, UK, 1986. Return to text.
16. David, ref. 15, p. 192. Return to text.
17. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 100. Return to text.
18. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 93. Return to text.
19. Ashton and Down, ref. 5, p. 98. Return to text.
20. Velikovsky, Immanuel, Ages in Chaos, Vol.1, ‘From the Exodus to King Akhnaton’, pp. 25–28, Abacus, London, UK, 1973. Return to text.
21. Edward, C.J. et al., The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II, Part I, ‘History of the Middle East and the Aegean Region c. 1800–1380 B.C.’, p. 50, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1980. Return to text.
22. David, ref. 15, p. 195 and 199. Return to text.
23. Wieland, C., Archaeologist confirms creation and the Bible: Interview with archaeologist Clifford Wilson, Creation 14(4):46–50, 1992 Return to text.
24. Wilson, C, Archaeologist Speaks Out, Creation 21(1):15, 1998. Return to text.