An era of biblico-historical luminaries
Damien F. Mackey
“In all likelihood Egypt used northern Sinai as a springboard for forcing her way into Canaan with the result that all of southern Canaan became an Egyptian domain”.
Dr. John Osgood
We customarily tend to refer to the early rulers of Egypt as “Pharaoh”, even though this is actually a Greek word (φαραώ), based on an Egyptian phrase: https://www.ancient.eu/pharaoh/
The word ‘pharaoh’ is the Greek form of the Egyptian pero or per-a-a, which was the designation for the royal residence and means `Great House’. The name of the residence became associated with the ruler and, in time, was used exclusively for the leader of the people.
And the term was applied to the rulers of the great nation only at a late stage in Egypt’s dynastic history.
Tradition accredits “Menes” with being the unifying founder of Egyptian dynastic history, the first ruler of the First Dynasty.
And some suggest that Menes was the same as Hor-Aha, whose nebty name was Min, or Men. For instance: http://www.ancient-egypt.info/2012/02/hor-aha-and-founding-of-memphis.html
Hor-Aha … took the nebti name (the second royal name: p. 218) of Men, which means ‘established’, and this could be the origin of the later record of the first king as being called Menes. For present purposes we may look on Hor-Aha as the first king of the 1st Dynasty. An interesting piece of evidence is a small broken ivory label found in the tomb of Queen Nithotep at Naqada. Although schematically represented, the busy scene on this tiny piece seems to show two humans celebrating a ceremony called ‘Receiving the South and the North’ over an unidentified object (possibly the first representation of the later symbolic tying of papyrus and lotus stalks).
The king’s name, meaning ‘Fighting Hawk’ – an allusion again to Horus – indicates his Upper Egyptian origin and rule. His adoption of Men as his nebti name for ruling over both parts is indicated on the ivory label by the fact that his Horus name (his first and principal name, p. 218) Hor-Aha, and his nebti name, Men, appear side by side. Other similar small labels from Early Dynastic tombs indicate that his was not an easy reign. There were campaigns to be fought and rebels to be subdued in Nubia, recorded on a wooden label from Abydos, and another label records his foundation of a temple to the goddess Neith at Sais in the Delta. Her warlike aspect was signified by a pair of crossed arrows and her worship continued into Roman times when she was identified with Athena at Sais. ….
For more on Neith (Athena), see my series:
Neith a goddess of greatest antiquity
That Menes and Hor-Aha were one and the same potentate is a view that I, too, favour, along with a tradition that Menes was the (somewhat ill-fated) pharaoh of Abram (= Abraham).
To that mix I have added that Menes/Hor-Aha was the biblical “Abimelech”.
An earlier article of mine on these biblico-historical correspondences has been picked up at: https://thepharaohofabraham.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/the-genealogy-of-israel-according-to-scripture/
…. Finally, whether the one whom Isaac calls “Abimelech” was still, in Isaac’s day, “Pharaoh” of Egypt, as he had been in former times, he was most definitely at least ruler over the Philistines at Gerar. Perhaps he ruled both lands, Egypt and Philistia. Be that as it may, the Holy Spirit has apparently provided the name of Abram’s “Pharaoh”. But one needs to respect His literary structures to discover that name. We now know his personal name: “Abimelech”.
In Hebrew it means “Father is King”.
Since Abimelech is not an Egyptian name, though (see discussion of this in 2. below), and since the other designation that we have for him is simply “Pharaoh”, that data, in itself, will not take us the next step of being able to identify this ruler in the Egyptian historical (or dynastic) records. But that our Abimelech may have – according to the progression of Ishmael’s and Isaac’s toledôt histories – ruled Egypt and then gone on
to rule Philistia, could well enable us to locate this ruler archaeologically.
Dr. John Osgood has already done much of the ‘spade work’ for us here, firstly by nailing the archaeology of En-geddi at the time of Abram (in the context of Genesis 14) to the Late Chalcolithic period, corresponding to Ghassul IV in Palestine’s southern Jordan Valley; Stratum V at Arad; and the Gerzean period in Egypt (“The Times of Abraham”, Ex Nihilo TJ, Vol. 2, 1986, pp. 77-87); and secondly by showing that, immediately following this period, there was a migration out of Egypt into Philistia, bringing an entirely new culture (= Early Bronze I, Stratum IV at Arad).
- 86: “In all likelihood Egypt used northern Sinai as a springboard for forcing her way into Canaan with the result that all of southern Canaan became an Egyptian domain”.
This new phase would seem to correspond very nicely with the time of Narmer,
since, at this very archaeological phase, according to Osgood (ibid., p. 85):
Belonging to Stratum IV [at Arad] Amiram found a sherd with the name of Narmer …”. ….
[End of quote]
How might this Narmer fit into this new scheme of things?
Without my claiming to be certain about it, I personally like the thought that Narmer may have been the Akkadian ruler, Naram-Sin:
Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham. Part Two: Narmer as Naram Sin
What would strengthen this correspondence, at least chronologically, is W. F. Albright’s remarkable thesis that Naram-Sin had actually conquered Menes of Egypt:
Dr. W.F. Albright’s Game-Changing Chronological Shift
All of this, if correct, would mean that, around c. 1900 BC (a conventional dating for Abram) we have a veritable clash of titans: Naram-Sin of Akkad, Menes of Egypt, and Patriarch Abram. Not to mention Melchizedek of Salem and Chedorlaomer of Elam, and so on.
A glimpse of this remarkable age has even been projected into a false C6th AD time warp:
Chedorlaomer and Chlodomer
I suspect that there may be much, much more to Naram-Sin the Akkadian than meets the eye.
For one, Naram-Sin strikes me now as being the stand-out candidate for the enigmatic biblical “Amraphel … king of Shinar”, contemporary of Abram. (Genesis 14:1). See e.g. my article:
Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham. Part Three: (Narmer) Naram Sin as Amraphel
Best biblico-historical (Egyptian) syncretisms
Damien F. Mackey
“According to historians, King Aha ruled Egypt early after the unification of Egypt (Tyldesley, 2009, p. 22), and would have held sway over essentially all the available land. This shows that the civilization of Egypt had already developed to the point of having a powerful pharaoh who obviously had a reputation for ruthlessness as indicated by Abraham’s fear of him”.
A-ha, someone else has suggested that Aha may have been ruler of Egypt at the time of Abram!
And what I like about this scenario is that the same writer, Anne Habermehl, also has the visionary Joseph in place as Imhotep of the Third Egyptian Dynasty. See e.g. my article:
Era of Biblical Joseph Necessitates Re-alignment of Old Egyptian Dynasties. Part One: Joseph and Egypt’s Third Dynasty
I personally think that Abram – 1st Dynasty; Joseph – 3rd Dynasty is the correct alignment.
Anne Habermehl has written thus on the coinciding of Abram and Aha of Egypt in her article,
ANCIENT EGYPT, THE ICE AGE, AND BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY
WHEN DID ABRAHAM VISIT EGYPT?
One potential synchronism between the Bible and secular history is Abraham’s temporary migration into Egypt, forced by a severe famine in Canaan (Gen. 12:10–20). The Bible does not tell us the name of Abraham’s pharaoh, and that omission introduces uncertainty as to when in Egypt’s history Abraham was there. An earliest date of about 1920 BC for Abraham’s Egyptian visit is based on 1921 BC for his entry into Canaan (Jones, 2007, p. 25). Scripture does not tell us how long Abraham was in Canaan before going to Egypt. (The LXX reduces these dates by 40 yrs. In I Kings 6:1, the time from the Exodus to beginning the building of the temple is 440 yrs. instead of 480 yrs. as in the MT.)
Abraham’s visit to Egypt would have occurred about 200 years before Joseph became vizier of Egypt. The placement of Joseph in the 3rd Dynasty of Egypt as the famous vizier Imhotep is argued by Habermehl (2013). Imhotep’s era is generally placed around 2700–2600 BC on the secular timeline (Tyldesley, 2009, p. 32). Because we know the secular timeline to be more extended than the biblical one, it would therefore be plausible that Abraham’s visit might have been about 300 yrs. (secular timeline) before Joseph. If so, this would put Abraham’s visit to Egypt somewhere around 3000 BC on the secular timeline, near the beginning of the 1st Dynasty.
There is some known ancient history that may support this date. The first king of the 1st Dynasty is generally believed to be King Aha, whose reign began c. 3000 BC on the secular timeline (Tyldesley 2009, p. 22; Shaw 2003, p. 481). During this king’s reign, the colonies of Egyptians who had been living in south Palestine abandoned their residences and returned to Egypt for unknown reasons, but then returned to Canaan later on during the 1st Dynasty (Raffaele, 2003; Porat, 1992; Watrin, 1998, pp. 1224–26). This author suggests that the same severe famine in Canaan that drove Abraham to Egypt may have caused these Egyptians to return home at this time.
We also note that Abraham did not appear to have the option of circumventing this powerful pharaoh. For his own personal safety (because of Sarah’s beauty), Abraham might have liked to pasture his animals in a section of Egypt that was not under this pharaoh’s rule. But the fact that he did not do so would indicate that he was obligated to deal with this particular pharaoh. According to historians, King Aha ruled Egypt early after the unification of Egypt (Tyldesley, 2009, p. 22), and would have held sway over essentially all the available land.
This shows that the civilization of Egypt had already developed to the point of having a powerful pharaoh who obviously had a reputation for ruthlessness as indicated by Abraham’s fear of him.
Placing Abraham in Egypt near the beginning of the 1st Dynasty would be earlier in Egypt’s history than many scholars have led us to believe. The well-respected Cook (1871, p. 447) thought Abraham was in Egypt between the 11th and 13th Dynasty. Ashton & Down (2006, p. 37) put Abraham in Egypt in the time of Kufu (4th Dynasty).However, those who place Abraham later on in Egyptian history have a problem, in that they have to fit even more historical events into the period between the Ice Age and Abraham’s visit. ….
[End of quote]
The article then goes horribly wrong, I believe, in locating the prophet Job to only “several generations after Abraham”:
We can conclude that by Abraham’s time the Ice Age was long past because it had ended earlier at the time of the Nile’s wild flow, and all development of Egypt’s civilization had taken place after that. This also means that Job did not live during the Ice Age, as is believed by various writers (e.g., Northrup, 1996). Job lived several generations after Abraham (Job 42:17 LXX). ….
[End of quote]
The prophet Job live into the era of the “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17), conventionally more than a millennium after Abraham. See e.g. my article:
Job’s Life and Times
Job was Tobias, son of Tobit, of the C8th BC (conventional dating).