Damien F. Mackey
How great had King Amaziah been at the peak of his power? A verse in 2 Chronicles may sum this up for us. There we are informed that Amaziah had formerly held towns deep into the territory of the northern kingdom, then ruled by the powerful Jehoash of Israel (25:13):
Meanwhile, the hired troops that Amaziah had sent home raided several of the towns of Judah between Samaria and Beth-horon.
This fact seems to accord with my (highly tentative) view that Jehoash, my pharaoh Seti I of Egypt’s 19th dynasty, and Amaziah, my pharaoh Ramses III of Egypt’s 20th dynasty, had ruled contemporaneously, with, now the one, and now the other, having the upper hand.
Soon king Jehoash, who would thrice save Israel from the Syrians (2 Kings 13:15, 17-19):
Elisha said … ‘Take the arrows …. Strike the ground’. [Jehoash] struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram [Syria] and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times’,
would actually capture king Amaziah and attack Jerusalem, breaking down its walls, and carrying off the treasures from its Temple and palace (14:13-14).
Anyone familiar with the historical revision as espoused by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky (his Ages in Chaos series) would appreciate that, with the 18th dynasty of Egypt lowered on the time scale by 500 years (c. C16th BC – C11th BC), chronological room must be found in which to place the later Egyptian dynasties.
A major consideration for revisionists in all of this has been where to locate the long-reigning 19th dynasty pharaoh, Ramses II (66-67 years)?
Various solutions to this problem have been proposed – some, it appears, recklessly flouting the genuine genealogical and archaeological evidence.
Basically the solution that presented itself to me in my post-graduate thesis:
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah
and its Background
given my identification therein of the biblical king Jehu with Horemheb – back to whom the 19th dynasty rulers looked as their ‘founder’ – was that the Jehu-ide dynasty was 19th dynasty Ramesside. This new theory is discussed largely in Volume One, Chapter 11, of my thesis. And, in that same chapter, I explored the possibility that the 20th dynasty Ramessides, emanating from their founder, Seti-nakht, were kings of Judah, with king Joash identified as pharaoh Seti-nakht, and Joash’s son, Amaziah (the subject of this article), identified as Ramses III, the son of Seti-nakht.
This arrangement, which I thought satisfied certain, historical, archaeological and epigraphical requirements – as well as removing a lot of the anomalies to be found in the conventional arrangement of these dynasties – meant that the 19th and 20th dynasties were interrelated, and had clashed, just as did the dynasties of Jehu (Israel) and Joash (Judah).
Comparing Amaziah with Ramses III
Beginning on p. 276 of my thesis, I discussed this:
Jehoash Sacks Jerusalem
I wrote … that the Second Book of Kings fails to elaborate, when it merely recalls “all that [Jehoash] did” (13:12). However, I had deliberately ignored what follows here, “as well as the might with which he fought against Amaziah of Judah”, as it – being of the greatest importance, since it involves also an assault upon Jerusalem itself – deserves separate treatment. Now Amaziah was the son of Joash of Judah, who I have suggested above was Seti-nakht founder of the 20th dynasty. Joash had come to the throne in Year 7 of Jehu (2 Kings 12:1). Amaziah would then be Ramses III. Since Amaziah began to reign “in the second year” of Jehoash (14:1) (my Seti I), then Amaziah (my Ramses III) must have been in fact an earlier contemporary of Ramses II (son of Seti I), who was coregent with Seti I in the latter’s Year 7.
It followed that, with the 20th dynasty’s being contemporaneous with that most powerful of Egyptian dynasties, the 19th (as according to my view), then the former’s influence over Egypt had to be kept relatively minimal (p. 277):
It would have been with the death of the Omride Queen Tausert, that is, Queen Athaliah (Athaliah was “a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel”, 2 Kings 8:26), that the Judaeans would have been able to have assumed some degree of control also over Egypt, inaugurating what has become known as the 20th dynasty. However, this occurred, not at the end of the 19th dynasty (bringing that dynasty to an end), but during a weakened phase of the very first generation of the 19th dynasty. Judah was in fact then allied to the Jehu-ides, through Elisha (i.e., the priest Jehoiada) in common cause against the Baalists/Atonists. There is not much evidence of Seti-nakht (my Joash) in Egypt, despite his great reputation; for, according to Grimal, “[Seti-nakht] … announced that he had ‘driven out the usurper’ … and] Papyrus Harris I cites him as the reorganizer of the country”. …. But Grimal here accords him “only two years” of reign. Rohl, however, more than doubles this: …. “SETNAKHT ruled for seven years, crowning his son, Ramesses III, as co-regent in his third regnal year …”. The truth is, I believe, that Seti-nakht ruled Judah for 40 years, whilst a portion of this reign (say, 2-7 years) also involved his rule over Egypt. “Ramses III’s father Setnakht was the founder of the twentieth dynasty although how and why he came to the throne is uncertain as there is no firm evidence that he is related to the previous [thought to have been the 19th] dynasty …”. …. Courville argued that the 20th dynasty kings were largely confined to the Delta region, claiming that even “the most outstanding of the [20th dynasty rulers, Ramses III] never claimed to be more than a local prince at Heliopolis [Haq An]”. ….
This I think was likely to have been the case as a general rule.
Though at least one commentator I have read reckoned that, for Courville to have said this, ‘would suggest that he had never been to Egypt’ (with reference to the vast building works of Ramses III). In my new scheme of things Ramses III, as the powerful and wealthy king Amaziah of Judah (e.g., 2 Chronicles 25:5-6):
Amaziah called the people of Judah together and assigned them according to their families to commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He then mustered those twenty years old or more and found that there were three hundred thousand men fit for military service, able to handle the spear and shield.He also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver,
was unlikely, as according to the view arising from the conventional chronology, just a starry-eyed emulator of Ramses II ‘the Great’ – at least not in his early reign when he was very strong. This was a point that I made in my thesis (ibid.):
Now, given that Ramses III (Amaziah) was an earlier contemporary of Ramses II – the latter’s sole reign of Israel, as king Jeroboam II, beginning about a third of the way through the reign of Amaziah, when he was about at his peak, as we are going to find –
then the traditional view as espoused for example by Grimal, in relation to Ramses III’s
great funerary temple in Western Thebes (Medinet Habu), as having “epitomized the outward grandeur of his reign as a second Ramesses II” … may need to be seriously reconsidered. “From the very outset”, he also wrote, “Ramesses III’s role-model was Ramesses II. His successors also modelled themselves on the earlier Ramesses, but it was Ramesses III who went to the greatest lengths, from the choice of his titulature to the construction of a mortuary temple copying the plan of the Ramesseum”.
Booth likewise thinks that “Ramses III, although not a son of Ramses II, greatly admired this king and tried to emulate him”. ….
There is more to be said on all of this.
Still trying to interrelate the two dynasties, I surmised further on (p. 278):
There is an interesting varying of Hebrew verbs to describe two separate of Jehoash’s journeys to Jerusalem: the first being when he came to visit the ailing Elisha, and the second being his march to Beth-shemesh against king Amaziah, on his way to Jerusalem. (I am basing this on my earlier identification of Elisha with the priest Jehoiada, thus presuming that Elisha had died in Jerusalem). On the first occasion (13:14), king Jehoash “went down” (Hebrew אֵלָיו) to Elisha. On the second occasion (14:11), king Jehoash “went up” (Hebrew וַיַּעַל) to Beth-shemesh. The Latin Vulgate has, respectively, descenditque and ascenditque. Could this variation perhaps allow for one of these incidents (presumably the second one) to have commenced from Egypt, whilst the other (presumably the first one) commenced from Samaria? After his war with Amaziah, we are told that “[Jehoash] returned to Samaria”.
Or, is there more to be read into all of this?
Prior to Amaziah’s defeat, “the cities of Judah [extended] from Samaria to Beth-horon” (2 Chronicles 25:13). Yes, king Amaziah of Judah in fact ruled Samaria, and Jehoash (Seti I in Egypt), with his great victory over Amaziah, apparently took it back. It was presumably to Samaria, then, that he carried all the captured Temple and palace treasures.
He may also have returned there (from Egypt) to die.
A fair bit of speculation here, of course.
The advantages of a revision, though, when it works, is that it enables one to fill out details otherwise lacking in a conventional history. An example of this is to be found in my use of an alter ego for Queen Nefertiti, as the biblical Queen Jezebel, in:
The Shattering Fall of Queen Nefertiti
to provide Queen Nefertiti with a beginning, but especially an end, which the conventional historians are at a loss to identify.
And in similar fashion I had hoped to fill out the obscure hero, Seti-nakht, when I wrote in my thesis (p. 279):
Suggested Interrelationships between the 19th and 20th Dynasties
My connection of Seti-nakht with Joash enables for some of the mystery to be lifted from whom Tyldesley describes as “the unknown Setnakht …the mysterious founder of
Dynasty 20”….. Hence I cannot accept the first part of her further view that: …. “It seems likely that the new king [Seti-nakht] was connected with the preceding regime [19th dynasty]. [Seti-nakht] himself, however, makes no effort to justify his rule by linking himself to the successful Ramesside kings, a surprising omission … [he] simply tells us, on a stele … at Elephantine, that he came to the throne via a divine oracle, and that in so doing he brought maat to a land of chaos”.
Still trying to find the right interrelationship between these dynasties, I wrote (p. 280):
Seti-nakht in turn, towards the very end of his reign, became weak from Syrian pressure, and this then saw the rise of Jehoash (Seti I), who several times turned back the Syrians. Seti I’s main period of rule over Egypt, and building enterprises there, and wars, would have spanned the period of his co-regency with Ramses I to the rise of king Amaziah of Judah (my Ramses III) culminating in the latter’s victory over Edom, about a decade later, when Amaziah’s army slew 10,000 Edomites in battle and another 10,000 in captivity (cf. 2 Kings 14:7 & 2 Chronicles 25:12). Some of his father Ramses I’s works were actually completed by Seti I. Thus Tyldesley tells, in connection with Seti’s mortuary temple, of his incorporating “a small chapel for Ramesses I who had died before he could complete his own provisions for eternity”. …. Moreover, at Abydos: …. “Seti built a small mahat for his father, Ramesses I, and an enormous one for himself”.
But Ramses III, as Amaziah, may have had the prior ascendancy (as already alluded to):
There seems to be the suggestion, though, that Jehoash/Seti I, at a stage prior to his defeat of Amaziah, when he as Jehoash assaulted Jerusalem, was not actually the primary ruler of Israel’s cities (Samaria to Beth-horon). It was then Amaziah who ruled this region. So there is a certain amount of complexity. Amaziah of Judah (Ramses III) must have ruled the land, though in co-operation with Jehoash, from whom he hired a massive mercenary army. It appears also that Amaziah was trying to form a marital alliance with the House of Israel. It was most likely during this earlier phase of his reign that Amaziah, too, built in Egypt, from, say Year 8 (his victory over Edom and the ‘Sea Peoples’, see below) to Year 12. The temple at Medinet Habu was probably completed in his 12th year. …. “His funerary temple of Medinet Habu stands as the ultimate indication of his achievement, but he also built at Karnak and prepared a fine tomb in the Valley of the Kings”….
The Sea Peoples
Most famous of all is Ramses III’s contest with the “Sea Peoples” in Year 8 of his reign. This incident I tried to place in revised context, tying it in with similar activities of Seti I and Ramses II, on p. 283:
This Year 8 of Ramses III, as Amaziah, corresponding with Year 9 of Seti I (Jehoash), will be found to be the same as Year 2 of Ramses II (according to co-regency calculations in D.). This gives rise to a most interesting correlation: …. “In the second year of his reign, Ramesses II … had to deal with a raid by the Sherden pirates, whom he defeated in a sea battle and subsequently incorporated into his own army”. This must then be the very same incident as the famous sea battle attributed to Ramses III, against the coalition that also “included the Sheklesh, Sherden … mercenaries …”. Some of these later “took up residence in Egypt, first as soldiers and then as landowners” …. settling largely in the Delta. For now, Israel and Judah had been forced to unite against this tidal wave of foreign peoples. No doubt many of them also became an integral part of Ramses II’s (and Ramses III’s massive combined?) labour force. “It is doubtful”, wrote David …. “whether Ramesses [II] would have completed his ambitious building programme without the ‘help’ of foreign workers”.
If this reconstruction is basically correct (and obviously it is going to need refining), then we now know that a motivation for this particular movement of ‘Sea Peoples’, at least, was not so much famine or due to an earthquake (though these may have caused the initial mass movement – and some think that the Hekla-3 volcano in Iceland occurred close to the reign of Ramses III …). It was in fact due to their being disgruntled by the off-handed treatment of Amaziah; a factor that also occurs in the case of Ramses III. …. One may wonder whether Amaziah eventually challenged Jehoash in anger as a result of the mercenary revolt, or merely because the former was proud of his combined victory over Edom and the ‘Sea Peoples’ (in the latter of which Jehoash must have had some share) and now wanted to test his strength against his former business partner. Newby has called this “the first naval engagement in history … to be fully recorded. Judging by the evidence provided on the walls of Medinet Habu it took place in the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, some distance north of Per-Ramesse, where it entered the Mediterranean”. …. Whatever the reason, the disastrous outcome led to a downturn in Amaziah’s prestige. And this decline in Amaziah’s fortunes from approximately mid-way through his 29-year reign is certainly paralleled in the case of Ramses III.
Though I also considered the possibility that Amaziah-Ramses III, may have had a window of opportunity for another half dozen years of building activity in Egypt during an apparent lull in the reign of Ramses II (p. 280):
Amaziah may just possibly also, later, have had a secondary phase of building activity in Egypt, now as a servant of (or in partnership with) Ramses II; from, say, Years 18-24,
corresponding to Years 10-18 of Ramses II, since, according to Thomas: …. “Between the years ten and eighteen there are few documents that tell us what the king was doing”. One might suggest a possible collaboration between the two, as earlier between Jehoash and Amaziah, for this period.
Was the formerly great Ramses III then actually serving as viceroy to Ramses II? I suggested: “Indeed, Ramses III (… hekaon … ka-nekht) might even have been someone like Hekanakht, viceroy of Ramses II in the latter’s own years 18-24, equating to Ramses III’s years 24-30 (revised)”.
Most interestingly, in my new context, Ramses III exhibited Syro-Palestinian tendencies in his architecture, and perhaps also married a wife from that region (p. 281):
The Harris Papyrus, writes Tyldesley … tells of Ramses III’s “impressive building works at Pi-Ramesse and at Tell el-Yahudiya, a successful trading mission to the mysterious Land of Punt, and the resumption of expeditions to the copper and turquoise mines”. The Syro-Palestinian influence of this Judaean king (as I am proposing) may perhaps be discerned from the fact that the eastern entrance portal to Ramses III’s Medinet Habu Temple was “built in imitation of a migdol, or Syrian fortress”. …. Again, Ramses III married a woman named Isis, about whom Clayton has commented: …. “Basically Isis was of Asiatic extraction since her mother’s name was Habadjilat, a distinctly un-Egyptian name”. If Ramses III were indeed Amaziah, then the latter’s mother, Jehoaddin of Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:2), must be Ramses III’s mother, Tiy-merenese.
Despite the common choice of the name “Ramses” amongst the 20th dynasty rulers, there appears to be no evidence whatsoever of a blood connection between the 19th and 20th dynasties:
An eventual happy working relationship between Ramses III and Ramses II, who had once defeated the former, might explain the apparent reverence thought to have been shown to Ramses II in the inscriptions of Ramses III and his sons. Though, given that (according to this thesis) Ramses III was himself a mighty king, who chronologically preceded Ramses II, then it could be partly the other way round: Ramses III influencing
Ramses II. Amaziah was a great army organizer (cf. 2 Kings 14:9 & 2 Chronicles 25:5),
and it may be that the 19th dynasty rulers even took some lead from him in developing their own skilled units. None of this though, of course, would be the conventional view.
Thus Tyldesley: …. “Ramesses III was a determined monarch who set out to model his reign on the reign of Ramesses II, without ever claiming direct descent from his great role model …”. Indeed there appears to have been no blood connection. Thus Clayton: …. “Despite the grandeur of the name [i.e. Ramses], none of [the 20th Dynasty rulers] had any ancestral connection with their great predecessor, Ramesses II”.
Perhaps Ramses III ultimately managed to achieve that marital alliance for his House with Ramses II that he, as Amaziah, had previously sought with Jehoash/Seti I. But the exact interconnections between these two dynasties still need to be fully determined.
His Age and Manner of Death
These seem to accord rather well I thought (pp. 283-284).
The 29-year reign of Amaziah also rather nicely, incidentally, matches the 31-33 years of Ramses III that includes a 3-year co-regency with his father.
In the end, king Amaziah of Judah was assassinated. We are given very little detail of it;
but both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles use the word “conspiracy” in their identical accounts.
“They made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and killed him there” (2 Kings 14:19; 2 Chronicles 25:27).
Now, Johnson is quite sure that assassination, as the result of a “conspiracy”, was also the fate of Ramses III: …. “The last really masterful king of independent Egypt, Ramesses III, was almost certainly murdered … the juridical investigation which followed revealed a ramifying conspiracy which went right through the court administration and army”.
Tyldesley also entertains this idea: ….
We do not know whether, after thirty-two years on the throne, Ramesses was indeed murdered. … The mummified body of Ramesses III show no obvious wound, but the hardened 20th Dynasty linen which still sticks to his limbs makes it difficult to be certain of this. Poison, often considered a woman’s weapon, need
not of course leave any tell-tale signs. Ramesses’s head, freed from its linen mask
by Maspero on 1 June 1886, revealed such a grim aspect that it has since served
as the model of a number of mummy-based horror films.
Ikram and Dodson, writing in relation to the pharaoh’s mummy, consider assassination
“likely”, but “impossible to check”. They have written: …. “[The mummy of Ramses III] was found well wrapped by restorers in antiquity, the linen carapace over the body still being in place. It has thus been impossible to check the body for any wounds that might derive from his likely murder”. No mention of it is found in the Great Papyrus Harris.
Suspicious for the conventional view is the following strange situation as told by Clayton: …. “Ramesses III himself commissioned [sic] the prosecution; however, since he is spoken of later in the papyrus as ‘the great god’, i.e. dead, he must have died during the course of the trial”. But I think rather that Ramses III could only have been ‘prosecuting the entire trial from the grave’, so to speak.
The age of Ramses III at death is estimated to have been between 55 and 65. The latter
would be the correct age for him if he were Amaziah, who came to the throne aged 29 and reigned for 30-odd years. According to one source: …. “Ramesses III died after a reign of 33 years, probably aged around 65 years old”.