[Chapter Two: Joseph and Thutmosis IV]
Chapter Three: Children of Merneptah—Moses, Miriam, and Seti II
The House of Merneptah
The earliest mention of Israel so far discovered in Egypt is on the Stele of Victory of Merneptah, the son and successor of Ramses II. Until then, as we shall see in Chapter Five, the Egyptians commonly thought of the Hebrews as Syrians. The citation appears toward the end of a list of foes whom the king claims to have subdued, the most powerful of which were the Libyans, yet he mentions the result of an action on his part that he apparently reserved exclusively for the people of Israel. For it is only they that are "wasted, bare of seed," because of the king. Now if our reconstruction of the Hebrew timeline in Egypt is even close to accurate, there is no possibility that this is a description of the defeat of Israel in Canaan sometime after the Exodus. Canaan itself is "captive with all woe." Not only is there no mention of this defeat in the bible, the overwhelming military power of Egypt held sway in Canaan during the entire reign of Ramses II, leaving no room, literally, for the conquest by Israel of parts of that territory.
The Victory Stele is clearly datable to the fifth year of the reign of Merneptah. It is clear from this that there is a significant period of time between the purported construction of the store cities of Raamses and Pithom under Ramses II and the appearance of Israel. The result of this realization is an understanding that not only has the history of Israel been accidentally or intentionally lengthened by a factor of two, it has also been significantly shortened in its narrative elements by the removal of the time represented by unrecorded, forgotten, and suppressed events and the editing of the surviving records into a continuous and superficially consistent storyline, a process known as telescoping. No wonder Velikovsky was confused.
As to who Moses was, we have already noted that his father was Amram, apparently a corruption of Amon Re, the putative father of all of the kings of Egypt. Aaron and Miriam, the brother and sister of Moses, must therefore also have been members of the Egyptian royal family. The first thing we need to ask is whether the comings and goings of Moses described in Exodus coincide with the events "on the ground" in Egypt as they have been reconstructed by the historians and archaeologists.
Alignment of Moses and his Relations with the
Kings of the 19th Dynasty
|Age of Moses||Event||Year BC|
|Ramses I becomes first king of the 19th Dynasty||1301|
|Seti I becomes king||1300|
|Ramses II becomes king||1286|
|Cometary year. Hittites defeat Ramses at Battle of Kadesh on the Orontes. Revolt at Rehanu (Wadi Hammamat). "Apollo," etc., build wall at Troy||1281|
|Hercules sacks Troy||ca 1240|
|400-Year Stela erected by Ramses II. Birth of Miriam||1228|
|Birth of Aaron||1227|
|0||Birth of Moses||1225|
|4||Sea People, including Achaeans (Ekwesh), attack Egypt||1221|
|6||Ramses II dies. Merneptah (Merenptah/Amram/Amran/Amenophis [Manetho]) becomes king at age 46||1219|
|10||Merneptah defeats Israel [Israel Stele]||1215|
|Asshur-dan I becomes king of Assyria||ca 1211|
|18||Amenmesse (Osarsiph, called Aaron) seizes throne. Merneptah flees to Ethiopia. "Memnon" becomes king of Cush. Moses defeats "Ethiopians" in league with Kikianus at age 18 [Jasher], marries Princess Tharbis of Cush [Josephus]||1207|
|20||Paris takes Helen to Troy||1205|
|21||Birth of Joshua "ben Nun" ("son of the serpent" or comet) to Miriam and Nun||1204|
|24||Seti II (Proteus/"Sethosis" [Manetho]/"Sesoösis" [Diodorus] removes Aaron, becomes king. Moses flees Egypt. Tausret (Sit-re Mery-amun, called Miriam), daughter of Merneptah, becomes queen||1201|
|30||Seti II takes Egyptian fleet to Cyprus [Manetho]. Siptah becomes acting king. Tausret becomes regent. Moses meets Aaron (Osarsiph) at Midian; both return to Egypt. Moses (Ramesse Khamenteru, called Beya) becomes chancellor, chief treasurer, and commander of the palace guard. Paris leaves Helen of Troy in Egypt [Damis via Philostratus]. Achaeans (Greeks), "Danaans" (Egyptian Danauna mercenaries), and Minoans (under Idomeneus) attack Troy during reign of "Thouris" [Homer]||1195|
|32||Siptah dies. Queen Tausret becomes acting king of Egypt||1193|
|39–40||Amazons arrive at Troy, are defeated. "Teutamus" sends Assyrian reinforcements under Memnon, son of Tithonus, to the Trojans [Diodorus]. Seti II attacks Assyria [Manetho]. Events described in the Iliad. "Pestilence" from Apollo afflicts Greeks at Troy. Troy VIIa falls to the Achaeans and Danaans||1186–1185|
|40||Ulysses (Saturn) begins his 10-year journey (events described in the Odyssey)||1185|
|40||Setnakhte (Seti II/Proteus) returns to Egypt with the Ark. Brother of "Sesoösis" tries to set him afire [Diodorus & Herodotus]. Beya requests aid from Ammurapi, king of Ugarit [de Moor]||Winter, 1185|
|40||Setnakhte ("Nilus") reclaims throne. 19th Dynasty ends. Moses takes the Trojan Ark of Bacchus. Exodus from Egypt under Miriam & Moses (Tausret & Beya [de Moor]), and Aaron (Irsu/Osarsiph)||March, 1185|
|40||Hittite Confederacy collapses. Ugarit falls to the Sea People||June, 1185|
|43||Sesoösis (Setnakhte), blinded, takes his own life [Diodorus]. Ramses III (Gk. Theoclymenus/"Remphis"/"Rhampsinitis") becomes king. Menelaus lands in Egypt under Ramses III, rescues Helen [Euripides]||1182|
|47||Menelaus returns to Greece||1178|
|Ulysses returns to Ithaca.||1175|
|60||Miriam dies at age 63. Aaron dies at age 62. Moses dies at age 60. End of period covered by "holy books of Moses" "lighted upon" by Eliakim in the temple in 622 BC||1165|
|Ninurta-tukulti-Asshur becomes king of Assyria||ca 1165|
|Israel enters Canaan under Joshua, son of Miriam and Nun and pretender to the throne of Egypt||1164|
|Asshur-Resha-Ishi becomes king of Assyria||ca 1163|
|Tree ring event. Battle of Gibeon. Famine begins in Egypt||1159|
|Ramses III assassinated. Ramses IV becomes king. Egyptian control of southern Canaan ends||1150|
|Othniel defeats Cushan-rishathaim (Asshur-Resha-Ishi). Asshur-Resha-Ishi dies. Period of the Judges begins||1145|
The first event in the life of Moses after his birth and semi-miraculous survival that is described in the bible is an altercation with an overseer who abused one of the Hebrew slaves working in the service of the king on one of his many building projects. This event occurs when Moses is mature, though it is not immediately clear how old one had to be at the time to be considered an adult. From our earlier exploration it appears that Joseph was all of 15 years old when he was appointed governor of Egypt by Thutmosis IV. It is possible that his flight had something to do with the overthrow of Amenmesse.
There is some dispute as to whether King Amenmesse followed directly on the reign of Merneptah or whether he succeeded Seti II, the husband of one Tausret among others. Manetho has the latter sequence, but modern scholars place Amenmesse first, since his name has been overwritten in various places by that of Seti. In any event, his reign was short. Sometime after Merneptah died, Moses fled Egypt for the safety of Midian and went about his life there in what we can imagine was the expectation that at some point in time a friendlier administration would take power in the Nile Valley. What is not clear from the biblical account is just how friendly that new administration was likely to be. For the aforementioned Tausret was about to become regent for the young acting king of Egypt, while his father fought the Assyrians and Hittites in parallel to the Greek battle with the Trojans at Ilium, and would later become king in her own right under the throne name Sit-re Mery-amun. This woman would appear to be the older sister of Moses, the Miriam of the bible, who watched over him as he floated on the Nile.
In his Moses and Monotheism, Sigmund Freud examines the question of whether Moses was truly of Hebrew descent or whether he was actually a member of the Egyptian royal house from the beginning. He concludes that Moses was indeed Egyptian but that there was a second Moses, the son-in-law of Jethro, who was a priest of Yahweh, whereas the first was of the religion of Aton; popularized, at least temporarily, by Akhnaton. Freud's problem may be based on a false dichotomy, however, and assumes that because some of the Hebrews were now slaves, they must all have been slaves, whereas there is no reason to believe blindly that the Hebrew monarchs of the 18th Dynasty, descendants of Joseph, did not remain in power, or later regain it, during the next dynasty. In fact, it was the death of Siptah, who ascended the throne when Seti supposedly died, that allowed his regent, Tausret, to gain the throne. So that it begins to look like the events preceding the Exodus were as much related to the retaking of the throne by the earlier Hebrew line as it was with escape from slavery. Even Siptah's mother Shotelel was "Syrian."
Not as a Hebrew slave, but as a daughter of Merneptah, Tausret would have been in an ideal position to suggest to her father that he allow Moses to join the royal household. But, as Freud suggests, the psychological framework of the story is such that Moses was probably already a member of the royal family who was later transformed into a Hebrew by the Jewish people in explanation of his position as their deliverer from slavery and founder of their religion. Or perhaps he was simply a descendant of Joseph and Akhnaton and was in actuality partly of Hebrew extraction. What is clear is that the story of his discovery in, and rescue from, the bullrushes goes back at least as early as the purported events surrounding the birth of Sargon I toward the middle of the 3rd Millennium BC in Mesopotamia.
Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, calls the pharaoh's daughter who rescued Moses, Thermuthis, whereas the Book of Jubilees has her as Tharmuth. According to Homer, the "king" who ruled Egypt when the Trojan War began was Thouris, a reference to Siptah's regent. Artapanus, in On the Jews, calls her Merris. These are all variations on Tausret and Miriam, which is in turn a variation on Mery-amun. Thermuthis was a daughter of Amenophis, whom we shall see in a moment was not one of the Amenhoteps of the 18th Dynasty but Merneptah, the father of Tausret. Clearly Moses's older sister was also the princess who "rescued" him. One can imagine a complex ceremony—a religious play if you will—not totally divorced from the later ritual of baptism, in which the son of the god Amon-Re was "discovered" in the Nile and taken into the royal house. How else could it be explained that a child of a terrestrial woman could none the less also be the son of God?
Though I have identified this Amon-Re with Amram, the father of Moses according to the bible, there remains the possibility that "Amram" was simply Merneptah. Remember that the vowels in the names of the Egyptian kings as identified in the papyri and monuments have been supplied by the Egyptologists: Amram, or Amran as he appears in other sources, would then have been none other than the son of Ramses the Great, Manetho's Amenophis, i.e., Meren-ptah. And the age of this Amram, when subjected to the same half-scale adjustment applied to all other biblical characters from this period, would have been 68˝ when he died.
Osarsiph Seizes the Throne
At this point it may be useful to look more closely at just exactly who Moses was purported to be by the sources who mention him. It is to Flavius Josephus, the Roman Jew who transmitted certain fragments of Egyptian history to the modern world, that we will turn for further hints about the person of Moses. In Against Apion, and in the process of trying to refute certain statements of Manetho, Josephus tells us the following:
Now thus far [Manetho] followed his ancient records; but after this he permits himself ... [to introduce] incredible narrations ...; for he mentions Amenophis, a fictitious king's name, though on that account he durst [dare] not set down the number of years of his reign ...; he then ascribes certain fabulous stories to this king, as having in a manner forgotten how he had already related that the departure of the shepherds for Jerusalem had been five hundred and eighteen years before; for Tethmosis was king when they went away. Now, from his days, the reigns of the intermediate kings, according to Manetho, amounted to three hundred and ninety-three years, as he says himself, till the two brothers Sethos and Hermeus; the one of whom, Sethos, was called by that other name of Egyptus, and the other, Hermeus, by that of Danaus. He also says that Sethos cast the other out of Egypt, and reigned fifty-nine years, as did his eldest son Rhampses reign after him sixty-six years.
When Manetho therefore had acknowledged that our forefathers were gone out of Egypt so many years ago, he introduces his fictitious king Amenophis, and says thus: "This king was desirous to become a spectator of the gods, as had Orus, one of his predecessors in that kingdom, desired the same before him; he also communicated that his desire to his namesake Amenophis, who was the son of Papis, and one that seemed to partake of a divine nature, both as to wisdom and the knowledge of futurities." Manetho adds, "how this namesake of his told him that he might see the gods, if he would clear the whole country of the lepers and of the other impure people; that the king was pleased with this injunction, and got together all that had any defect in their bodies out of Egypt; and that their number was eighty thousand; whom he sent to those quarries which are on the east side of the Nile, that they might work in them, and might be separated from the rest of the Egyptians." He says further, that "there were some of the learned priests that were polluted with the leprosy; but that still this Amenophis, the wise man and the prophet, was afraid that the gods would be angry at him and at the king, if there should appear to have been violence offered them; who also added this further, (out of his sagacity about futurities,) that certain people would come to the assistance of these polluted wretches, and would conquer Egypt, and keep it in their possession thirteen years; that, however, he durst not tell the king of these things, but that he left a writing behind him about all those matters, and then slew himself, which made the king disconsolate."
After which he writes thus verbatim: "After those that were sent to work in the quarries had continued in that miserable state for a long while, the king was desired that he would set apart the city Avaris, which was then left desolate of the shepherds, for their habitation and protection; which desire he granted them. Now this city, according to the ancient theology, was Typho's city. But when these men were gotten into it, and found the place fit for a revolt, they appointed themselves a ruler out of the priests of Heliopolis, whose name was Osarsiph, and they took their oaths that they would be obedient to him in all things. He then, in the first place, made this law for them, that they should neither worship the Egyptian gods, nor should abstain from any one of those sacred animals which they have in the highest esteem, but kill and destroy them all; that they should join themselves to nobody but to those that were of this confederacy.
When he had made such laws as these, and many more such as were mainly opposite to the customs of the Egyptians, he gave order that they should use the multitude of the hands they had in building walls about their City, and make themselves ready for a war with king Amenophis, while he did himself take into his friendship the other priests, and those that were polluted with them, and sent ambassadors to those shepherds who had been driven out of the land by Tefilmosis to the city called Jerusalem; whereby he informed them of his own affairs, and of the state of those others that had been treated after such an ignominious manner, and desired that they would come with one consent to his assistance in this war against Egypt. He also promised that he would, in the first place, bring them back to their ancient city and country Avaris, and provide a plentiful maintenance for their multitude; that he would protect them and fight for them as occasion should require, and would easily reduce the country under their dominion. These shepherds were all very glad of this message, and came away with alacrity all together, being in number two hundred thousand men; and in a little time they came to Avaris.
And now Amenophis the king of Egypt, upon his being informed of their invasion, was in great confusion, as calling to mind what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had foretold him; and, in the first place, he assembled the multitude of the Egyptians, and took counsel with their leaders, and sent for their sacred animals to him, especially for those that were principally worshipped in their temples, and gave a particular charge to the priests distinctly, that they should hide the images of their gods with the utmost care he also sent his son Sethos, who was also named Ramesses, from his father Rhampses, being but five years old, to a friend of his. He then passed on with the rest of the Egyptians, being three hundred thousand of the most warlike of them, against the enemy, who met them. Yet did he not join battle with them; but thinking that would be to fight against the gods, he returned back and came to Memphis, where he took Apis and the other sacred animals which he had sent for to him, and presently marched into Ethiopia, together with his whole army and multitude of Egyptians; for the king of Ethiopia was under an obligation to him, on which account he received him, and took care of all the multitude that was with him, while the country supplied all that was necessary for the food of the men. He also allotted cities and villages for this exile, that was to be from its beginning during those fatally determined thirteen years. Moreover, he pitched a camp for his Ethiopian army, as a guard to king Amenophis, upon the borders of Egypt. And this was the state of things in Ethiopia.
But for the people of Jerusalem, when they came down together with the polluted Egyptians, they treated the men in such a barbarous manner, that those who saw how they subdued the forementioned country, and the horrid wickedness they were guilty of, thought it a most dreadful thing; for they did not only set the cities and villages on fire but were not satisfied till they had been guilty of sacrilege, and destroyed the images of the gods, and used them in roasting those sacred animals that used to be worshipped, and forced the priests and prophets to be the executioners and murderers of those animals, and then ejected them naked out of the country. It was also reported that the priest, who ordained their polity and their laws, was by birth of Heliopolis, and his name Osarsiph, from Osyris, who was the god of Heliopolis; but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses."
This is what the Egyptians relate about the Jews, with much more, which I omit for the sake of brevity. But still Manetho goes on, that "after this, Amenophis returned back from Ethiopia with a great army, as did his son Rhampses with another army also, and that both of them joined battle with the shepherds and the polluted people, and beat them, and slew a great many of them, and pursued them to the bounds of Syria."
Clearly, Sethos was Seti I; Rhampses, his son Ramses II. Amenophis, whom Josephus insists was mythological, was Merneptah, the father of Thermuthis/Tausret and whose victories in Palestine are commemorated on the Israel Stele; And Sethos/Ramesses was Seti II. Osarsiph must therefore have been the usurper Amenmesse, and what Manetho is claiming is no less than that Amenmesse was Moses. This is quite an astounding claim, for it has Moses, no matter how illegitimately, sitting on the throne of Egypt. There are no plagues here, no escape in the dead of night, no drowning of the pharaoh, no pillar of smoke and fire. Amenmesse simply seizes Egypt with the help of his Hyksos allies and drives Merneptah into exile in "Ethiopia," the Cush of the Masoretic Text. Clearly, this does not agree with the biblical account, nor does it fit our revised chronology, but it does explain certain aspects of the political conditions that allowed Moses to pull off what he did a generation later. For it was Merneptah's excursion into Palestine that finally cleared the playing field of the Hyksos, whoever they may have been, driving them to the borders of Syria and placing authority over the region in the hands of the Egyptians where it remained until the murder of Ramses III. In the Egyptian political sphere, it demonstrates the ability of a priest of Heliopolis, where Joseph's father-in-law also served, with the help of the royal stonecutters, to overthrow the government of Egypt.
An Earlier Revolt of the Stonecutters
This was not the first time a revolt had been attempted; though, previously, not as successfully; in fact, quite disastrously. As Adolf Erman tells us in Life in Ancient Egypt:
Sailing down the [Nile] from Thebes, we come on the eastern bank to the "Nome of the two Hawks," important in old and modern days for the same reason. The river here makes a deep bend towards the Red Sea, and is met by a transverse valley of the Arabian desert which forms a natural road from Egypt to the coast.... The starting-points for the desert, and the harbours, have changed from time to time; Koptos was the usual starting-point in old times ....
[T]his road was also important for the great quarries of Rehanu, the modern Hammamat, situated where the limestone meets the older formations. With the exception of granite, all the hard dark-coloured stone used by the Egyptian sculptors came from these quarries; and those who know how much the Egyptians valued these "eternal stones" can estimate the importance of the road by which alone they could obtain these treasures.... A higher protection than the soldiers was ... at hand, for Koptos was the abode of the great god Min, the Pan of the Egyptians, who, although he was particularly the god of nature, took the travellers of the desert under his special protection....
Before the author [of the first Anastasi papyrus, "N. N.," the son of Nennofre] touches upon [the] subject which forms the main part of his book, he considers it necessary to defend himself from the two personal attacks, which his friend had ventured to make against him.... The [latter] attack is [easy] to parry; Nechtsotep had reproached him with being neither a scribe nor an officer, his name not being recorded in the list. "Let the books but be shown to thee," the author answers him, "thou wilt then find my name on the list, entered in the great stable of King Ramses II....
The author ... begins the ... recapitulation of the deeds of Nechtsotep [he is demonstrating to Nechtsotep how he should have written his original letter using N. N.'s own superior skill], the deeds of "that most excellent scribe...who knows everything, who is a lamp in the darkness before the soldiers and enlightens them." [In the voice of Nechtsotep,] he reminds him how well he had transported the great monuments for the king, and had quarried an obelisk 120 cubits long at Syene, and how afterwards he had marched to the quarries of Hammamat with 4000 soldiers that he might there "destroy that rebel." Now however he is striding through Syria as a mahar ....
The officials who, under the Old and Middle Empire, directed the works at Hammamat, were (as in the mines) mostly treasurers and ship captains; but at the same time there were in addition royal architects and artists .... The higher officials—for there were men of the highest rank amongst them, "nearest friends of the king, hereditary princes and chief prophets," and even a "great royal son"—came here probably only as inspectors, whilst the real direction of the quarrying work was placed in the hands of persons of somewhat lower standing....
During the period subsequent to this account [from the 12th Dynasty] the inscriptions almost cease ....Yet we must not therefore conclude that from this time the quarries were little worked; numberless proofs to the contrary are to be found in the buildings of the 13th dynasty, as well as the New Empire. It was again the business-like everyday character that the work assumed, that led to the cessation of inscriptions. Hammamat, at this epoch, when nothing in the way of building was considered too difficult, was placed almost in the same rank as Turah and Silsilis. Though we hear no more of the want of water or of the difficulty of communication, yet a new danger seems to have arisen. From the above-mentioned ... satirical writing ... we hear of a military expedition being sent to Hammamat "in order to destroy those rebels"; exclusive of officers, the number of troops employed is given as 5000, the text therefore cannot refer to one of the petty wars frequently carried on with the wretched Beduins of these mountains. If in other respects we may believe the account, there must have been a mutiny amongst the workmen to necessitate the employment of so great a number of soldiers [my emphasis].
As we have seen, there were already two instances before the year when Moses was born of revolts among the stonecutters, led in the first instance from the time of Ramses the Great by the mysterious "rebel"; in the second by the priest Osarsiph, throne name Amenmesse, after the reign of Merneptah. Imagine if we could discover the identity of "that rebel." That there should have been a third, later, such revolt after the reign of the young, politically and militarily inexperienced Siptah, this time led by a priest and a scribe who may have been younger brothers of the king's regent, is therefore not surprising. But do we have any evidence that either of these two people really existed? First let us look at the circumstantial evidence.
The Cohens, the Jewish hereditary priesthood from the tribe of Levi, claim Aaron, the brother of Moses, as their direct ancestor. Josephus describes the care with which the Levites guarded their birthright. Detailed genealogical tables were kept by which a candidate for the priesthood had to prove his eligibility. These were forwarded to and stored at Jerusalem after the establishment of the Jewish kingdom there. This was in addition to the extensive genealogical records in the bible. Freud points out that these Levites had Egyptian names, thus buttressing his claim that they were the theological descendants of Akhnaton. But Moses also partook of the religion of Yahweh of whom his father-in-law, Jethro, was a priest. Freud suggests that there were two individuals named "Moses," based on the divergent views of the two priesthoods. More likely, Moses was trained in a variety of religious practices from which he picked and chose in the process of creating a new religious synthesis.
This is where my investigation of Moses stood in late November of 2005 when it occurred to me that Chancellor Beya, a scribe of Seti II and purportedly the power behind the throne during the reign of Siptah, might be Moses. I already had Miriam and a pharaoh who had died young, Siptah, still suffering from the effects of what may have been polio which struck down the young Egyptians during the time of the Plagues. It was only reasonable to assume that Moses was somewhere nearby and would show up in the Egyptian records. I immediately learned that Beya's Egyptian name (he is generally regarded as having been "Syrian") was Ramesse Khamenteru. This was in line with Freud's contention that Moses was simply the word for child and represented one of the many names as part of which this word occurred. "I am a little surprised, however, that Breasted in citing related names should have passed over the analogous theophorous names in the list of Egyptian kings, such as Ah-mose, Thut-mose, and Ra-mose (Ramses)." I soon learned of the chapter by Abraham Malamat, "The Exodus: Egyptian Analogies," in Exodus, the Egyptian Evidence, edited by Frerichs and Lesko.
Malamat places the date of a "punctual exodus," the culmination of a "durative event, toward the end of the XIXth Dynasty ...." It was then that the two dominant forces in the area, the empires of Egypt and the Hittites, collapsed, leaving a power vacuum in Palestine. According to a royal stele on the island of Elephantine,
[F]rom the second (?) year of Pharaoh Sethnakht, founder of the XXth Dynasty ..., dating in absolute chronology from the first or second decade of the 12th century B.C.E. ..., the political situation in Egypt ... was marred by the enigmatic intervention of Asiatics ... who were approached and bribed by a faction of Egyptians ... who revolted against another faction ... who remained loyal to Sethnakht.
Sethnakht overcame the plot and drove the Asiatics from Egypt. According to Malamat, the Papyrus Harris I also describes "the Syrian-Palestinian usurpation of Egypt" as well as the "desolate conditions" that held sway prior to Ramses III. According to the papyrus, the Asiatics were led by "someone called Irsa," and Malamat goes on to note that some scholars identify Irsa with Beya.
There is a strong resemblance between the items offered as bribes by the rebels to the Palestinians and the items described in Exodus taken by the Israelites from the Egyptians:
And it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty; but every woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment; and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
Finally, Malamat notes that "there are now a few scholars who boldly maintain that Beya/Irsu is in fact the biblical Moses ...." Thus, what had been an informed supposition on my part now rose to the level of legitimate hypothesis supported by an academic expert in the field, Johannes C. De Moor, in The Rise of Yahwism: The Roots of Israelite Monotheism.
De Moor places the Exodus at the end of the 19th Dynasty, at 1190 BC, based on extensive though circumstantial evidence. This is close to the date we have already arrived at using purely chronological methods. Others place the collapse of the Hittite Empire and the fall of Ugarit to the Sea People at 1185. In de Moor's estimation, the pharaoh of the Exodus was Setnakhte, who drove Miriam, Moses, and their friends, family, and allies out of Egypt after their failure to buy help from the Canaanites in imitation of Osarsiph and the Hyksos. He further mentions the older brother of Siptah, who died before his father, as a candidate for the son of the pharaoh who fell victim to the tenth plague. In this regard he agrees with Malamat in recognizing the telescoping effect we noted earlier, though, according to J.C. de Moor, the city of Pithom (Tell el-Ratabeh) was probably built by Merneptah, who continued work on the city of Raamses (Pi-Ramesse) as well, so that the incidents described in the bible may not be so terribly compressed as they would at first appear, and the killing of the overseer would have involved the very construction at these two cities and not a later event. It was here, at Pi-Ramesse, that he suggests that Moses/Beya met Setnakhte, whom he calls Sethnakht, when he was still a prince. The latter had a house near the palace and worshipped at the temple of Sutekh/Seth/Baal, a deity earlier associated with the Hyksos whom Manetho calls "Typhon."
The disease that killed Siptah may have spread to Troy in Asia Minor. Indeed, the early verses of the Iliad of Homer, an epic lyrical poem that begins in the tenth year of the Trojan War, describe a period of pestilence, ascribed by Homer to the intercession of Apollo upon the rejection by Agamemnon of the priest Chryses' attempt to ransom his daughter. The prose translation of Samuel Butler has it thus:
"Son of Atreus," said [Achilles], "I deem that we should now turn roving home if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by war and pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some reader of dreams ... who can tell us why Phoebus Apollo is so angry ...."
The independent reign of Tausret was short and her influence abroad limited. The presence of her cartouche on pottery fragments outside of Egypt can be used, in the estimation of de Moor, as a veritable travelogue of her journey during the period of the Wandering. Such fragments have been found at Serabit el-Khadim, Timan, "in the context of Midianite pottery," and Succoth. These locations agree relatively well with the bible, so that beyond a certain level of theological accretion they serve as a valid key to the events of the day. These include "a gap in Egyptian occupation of Transjordan" when they "lost access to their highway" there. Even after the ascension of Ramses III., he "did not succeed in regaining complete control over Canaan." Such was the result of the presence of the former Egyptian field martial and his followers in the area.
Josephus, again in Antiquities of the Jews, describes the conditions under which Moses began his military career. It seems that there was a faction in the Egyptian government that wanted him gotten rid of. The prophesy of his impending subjugation of Egypt still stood. This was the one that led, in part, to the killing of the male children. And there was the continuing fear that he would claim the throne against the wishes of people like Setnakhte. According to Josephus, there was an invasion of Egypt from the south, it was determined by consultation of an oracle that Moses was the man for the job, and
... the king commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the general of their army. Upon which, when she had made him swear he would do him no harm, she delivered him to the king, and supposed his assistance would be of great advantage to them.... So Moses, at the persuasion both of Thermuthis and the king himself, cheerfully undertook the business: and the sacred scribes of both nations were glad; those of the Egyptians, that they should at once overcome their enemies by his valor, and that by the same piece of management Moses would be slain; but those of the Hebrews, that they should escape from the Egyptians, because Moses was to be their general. But Moses prevented the enemies, and took and led his army before those enemies were apprized of his attacking them; for he did not march by the river, but by land.... When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians before they expected him; and, joining battle with them, he beat them, and deprived them of the hopes they had of success against the Egyptians, and went on in overthrowing their cities, and indeed made a great slaughter of these Ethiopians. Now when the Egyptian army had once tasted of this prosperous success, by the means of Moses, they did not slacken their diligence, insomuch that the Ethiopians were in danger of being reduced to slavery, and all sorts of destruction....
The Ethiopians, or Cushites, fled to an island that was well nigh inaccessible where they held out against Moses until the king's daughter Tharbis spied him from the ramparts of the royal city of Saba and fell madly in love with him. In exchange for a promise to marry her, Tharbis betrayed her own father and gave the city up to Moses. As mentioned in the book of Numbers, this woman was still with him later, in the wilderness, where Miriam and Aaron harangued him for having married a Cushite woman. This Saba appears to have been the Sheba listed under Raamah under Cush in the Table of Nations and not the Sheba listed under Joktan that was probably the Saba of Arabia Felix.
Upon his return to Egypt, Moses would have no longer been simply a general and peripheral member of the royal family. He would have been the prince and heir apparent of "Ethiopia." Under these conditions, the tension in the "Great House" would have been extraordinary. Now Josephus's take on the reasons Moses fled to Midian differs from the book of Exodus. In Exodus, of course, Moses kills an overseer and flees for fear of being discovered and, presumably, prosecuted, despite the fact that he was royalty. In his Antiquities, Josephus paints a more politically oriented picture of the events. We might suspect that he is trying to sugar coat the story for Roman popular consumption, but his description is nonetheless more in line with Moses as Egyptian insider than Moses as spokesman for the Hebrews.
Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained a hatred to him, and were very eager in compassing their designs against him, as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success, to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the king he ought to be slain. The king had also some intentions of himself to the same purpose, and this as well out of envy at his glorious expedition at the head of his army, as out of fear of being brought low by him and being instigated by the sacred scribes, he was ready to undertake to kill Moses: but when he [Moses] had learned beforehand what plots there were against him, he went away privately; and because the public roads were watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and where his enemies could not suspect he would travel; and, though he was destitute of food, he went on, and despised that difficulty courageously; and when he came to the city Midian, which lay upon the Red Sea, and was so denominated from one of Abraham's sons by Keturah, he sat upon a certain well, and rested himself there after his laborious journey, and the affliction he had been in.
This is a variation on a story that appears in the book of Jasher, where Moses flees to Cush rather than Midian, joins the siege of the city under its rightful king, Kikianus, marries the daughter of the king, Adoniah, and then becomes king himself. After reigning for many a year, he is relieved of the job by the queen and the people of Cush and only then does he travel to Midian and the story then intersects the biblical tale of his sojourn there. His outrageous behavior under Siptah would then be understandable in light of his position as not only chancellor of Egypt but king of the Cushites. Jasher has Moses as 27 when he becomes king. Our present reconstruction would have him in the neighborhood of 18. Jasher would have him rule for 40 years. In actuality, his marriage to Tharbis may have lasted as long as 42. The above account of Josephus also parallels his account of the flight of Merneptah with his son Ramses into "Ethiopia" even to the point that we may suspect that this son was none other than Moses himself, Ramses Khamenteru. Only after his return from Ethiopia and the accession to the throne by Seti II in the latter version of Josephus, as in the bible, does Moses leave Egypt for Midian.
The Trojan Front
After Amenophis came Sethosis, presumably Seti II and not the earlier, missing, Seti I, and his brother, another Ramesses. Sethosis had, according to Manetho, "an army of horse, and a naval force." There are elements in Manetho's story that remind us of his description of Amenophis and Osarsiph, and we can begin to understand here why he identified Osarsiph with Moses, for this new Ramesses would appear to be Ramesse Khamenteru, the only other Ramesses who could conceivably fit Manetho's contention that he seized power when Sethosis was away leading his army and navy. What is of prime interest here, however, is the statement that Sethosis had ships, for some of these very ships would have fallen into the hands of Beya/Ramesse/Moses upon his rise to the position of chancellor even if Seti had taken his Mediterranean fleet to Cyprus. Here, finally, we have a clue to how the fleeing Israelites managed to cross that body of water perhaps mistranslated as the "Red Sea," there being no easy way of getting the Red Sea fleet to the Mediterranean Sea.
Beyond this, as Manetho says, Sethosis,
... had a naval force, and in a hostile manner destroyed those that met him upon the sea. [He] appointed his brother ... to be deputy over Egypt [and] gave him all the other authority of a king, [except that he] should not wear the diadem, nor be injurious to the queen, ... and that he should not meddle with the other concubines ...; while he made an expedition against Cyprus, and Phoenicia, and besides against the Assyrians and the Medes. He then subdued them all, some by his arms, some without fighting, and some by the terror of his great army; and being puffed up by the great successes he had had, he went on still the more boldly, and overthrew the cities and countries that lay in the eastern parts.
By the "Medes," Manetho appears to mean the kingdom of Mitanni, which was under Assyrian rule at the time. Daughters of the king of Mitanni had earlier married Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III. At long last his brother Ramesses broke all of the rules laid down by Sethosis and set himself up as the supreme authority in Egypt. None of this is greatly at odds with the events that transpired after Siptah took the throne; if this account is to be given due credit, in the capacity of acting king under the watchful eye of his uncle, Moses.
Diodorus relates a slightly different version of this story, and in much greater detail. Attributing the actions of Seti or Sethosis to "Sesoösis," whom modern commentators often identify with Senusret III of the 12th Dynasty, he manages to fill in a number of gaps in the accounts found in Manetho and the bible, including a clarification of the relationship of the Greeks to the Egyptians in the Trojan War. According to Diodorus, beginning with Chapter 53 of Book I, Sesoösis and a number of other Egyptians born at the same time were enrolled by the father of Sesoösis, presumably Merneptah, in a program of training and education that lasted until they were mature enough to do battle. This cadre of young officers was then sent to Arabia where they conquered the entire Arab nation, after which they turned their attention to Libya and its conquest.
Upon ascending the throne at the death of his father, and upon the instigation of his daughter Athyrtis, Sesoösis set out to conquer the world. Raising an army that Diodorus places at 600,000 men, 24,000 cavalry, and 27,000 chariots; in his version it is Sesoösis who then conquered Ethiopia, exacting a tribute of gold, ebony, and ivory, clearly placing this "Ethiopia" in Africa and not in Asia. This version of Seti II then becomes "the first Egyptian to build warships" that amounted to a fleet of 400 ships that he projected into the "Red Sea," the Persian Gulf according to the translator, C. H. Oldfather. This fleet conquered the southern coast of Asia as far as India beyond the Ganges while he himself led a land army into Asia after which he "visited" the Scythians "as far as the river Tanaďs [the Don]," then conquered "most of the Cyclades islands" before almost losing his army in Thrace, which he set as the western limit of his empire in Europe. According to Diodorus this campaign lasted nine years.
After reaching the eastern end of the Black Sea and before setting his sights on the islands of the west, the Egyptian king set up monumental pillars in the kingdom of Colchis. The Abbé Antoine Banier, in the fourth volume of his Mythology and Fables of the Ancients Explained from History of 1740, supports the existence of these pillars as follows. From Egypt,
had anciently come a conqueror, who after having over-run Europe and Asia, and conquered many countries, had founded several cities, and among others Ćea the capital of Colchis; that those ancient people showed pillars whereon were engraved the roads and courses from and to all places both by sea and land that were accessible ....
... I ought not to pass over in silence what Apollonius Rhodius says of those pillars of Colchis, upon which were engraved all the routes known in that time; this fact relating to Sesostris, who actually extended his conquests as far as the Phasis, and left there several monuments of no less magnificence than utility. This poet having spent most of his life in Egypt in quality of librarian to Ptolemy Philadelphus, had undoubtedly in his possession the history of Sesostris; and tho' this was posterior to the Argonautic expedition, he might, by way of anticipation, speak of the monuments which that conqueror left in Colchis: For which, besides Herodotus, I refer to Syncellus, Jamblichus, Huetius, and several other authors. The ancient commentator on Apollonius Rhodius, gives the name of Sethoncosis to the prince who had erected these pillars, who is the same Sesostris [orthography modernized from that of 1740].
After Seti first took the fleet to Cyprus and before the beginning of the Trojan War, Paris took Helen of Troy to Egypt where he left her in the hands of the regent of Siptah, Miriam, and her brother Moses. Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, describes the encounter of Apollonius with the shade of Achilles at his tomb in Ilium:
"Did Helen, O Achilles, really come to Troy or was it Homer that was pleased to make up the story?"
"For a long time," he replied, "we were deceived and tricked into sending envoys to the Trojans and fighting battles in her behalf, in the belief that she was in Ilium, whereas she really was living in Egypt and in the house of Proteus, whither she had been snatched away by Paris. But when we became convinced thereof, we continued to fight to win Troy itself, so as not to disgrace ourselves by retreat."
By the time of Siptah's death and the ascension of Tausret to the throne, the Greeks, in the person of the Achaeans or Danaans, and the Egyptians, who now controlled the Cyclades north of Crete, had apparently formed an alliance and felt emboldened enough by their combined power to attack Troy, whose allies included the Hittites, the enemies of Egypt since the "victory" of Ramses II at the Battle of Kadesh. Where the term Danaan came from is problematic. As John B. Bury suggests in A History of Greece, "legend associated Danaus, the name-sire of the Danaoi, with Egypt, and it has been supposed that this people should be identified with the Danauna, who appear in Egyptian documents as early as 1400 and as late as c. 1200 as mercenaries and raiders." In short, the Danauna, who were one of the Sea Peoples, were apparently in the employ of Seti II when he sailed off to Cyprus, and some of these Danaans who fought at Troy were under his command. Moses may also have had Danauna troops at his disposal—the tribe of Dan comes to mind—so there is a possibility that he too came to be associated with Danaus in the Greek mind. None of this can be proven absolutely, but it begins to explain Beya's relationship with the king of Ugarit, who was under attack by the Sea People, and the attitude of the inhabitants of Transjordan who saw Moses as a liberator from the growing influence of the Shardanu, another group of Sea People; interestingly enough, also in the employ of the Egyptians.
As has already become apparent, the war at Troy was more than just a local conflict. It was a single front in a much wider war, and the combatants there were mere proxies for larger political forces unrecognized in Homer's legendary account. On one side, the Cretans, the independent Greeks, as well as those under Egyptian domination, and the Egyptians themselves under Seti. On the side of the Trojans; the Abbé Banier lists the following nations:
Zelea from Mt. Ida
The Pelasgians of Larissa
The Thracians of the Hellespont
The Ethiopians [Assyrians]
Others arrived late in the game. Only after dispatching most of these during the first nine years of the war did the Greeks concentrate on the siege of the city of Troy itself. The defeat of Memnon and his Persian and Assyrian troops was apparently left to Seti, as Manetho has Sethosis attack them toward the end of his war for world conquest. In this light, the notion that the entire war was fought at Ilium is little more than a dramatic device introduced by Homer to support the action and plot of the Iliad. As to who exactly Memnon was, he who led the Assyrian and "Ethiopian" troops in the war, we can do no better than to do as the Abbé Banier does in The Mythology and Fables of the Ancients, Explained from History and quote from P. D. Huetius, Bishop of Avranches, and his Dissertations on the Terrestrial Paradise, and the Navigations of Solomon:
Memnon, says that learned prelate, was a son of Tithonus and Aurora. Tithonus was the brother of Priam king of Troy, and to him is sometimes ascribed the founding of the city Susa, the capital of Susiana. From the name of Memnon his son, the citadel was denominated Memnonium, the palace and the walls Memnonian, and Susa itself the city of Memnon, upon account of the veneration that was paid to him there, and in honour of him a temple was built, whither Assyrians went and mourned him, which is to be understood of the people of Susiana. This is that Memnon who came to the assistance of the Trojans, from whom he derived his original, and who was slain by Achilles. When the Greeks feigned that he was the son of Aurora, they would have us to understand that he came from the East.... I know the history of Memnon is very perplexed, and very differently related. Most ancient authors tell us he was an Ethiopian: This error flows from their confounding Chus [Cush], which signifies Susiana, with Chus which signifies the countries situated upon the borders of the Arabic Gulf [Red Sea], I mean Ethiopia and Arabia.... What we are in reason to think concerning Memnon's expedition, may be gathered from Diodorus, and some others. The kingdom of Troas was in the dependence of the empire of Assyria. Tithonus, Priam's brother, who was master of the kingdom, went to the court of the king of Assyria, who gave him the government of Susiana. There he married in his old age .... Memnon and Emathion were the issue of this marriage: the war having after this arisen, Priam applied to Teutamus for assistance, or at least to some king of Assyria, who granted him twenty thousand men, and two hundred chariots of war. Diodorus says this supply consisted of ten thousand Ethiopians, and ten thousand Susians, returning to the vulgar error, and confounding the Chus of Ethiopia with the Chus of Susiana. To make this supply of more service, Teutamus gave the command thereof to Memnon, a young prince of the Trojan race, and who was therefore concerned for the preservation of Troy. He kept Tithonus with himself upon account of his age, which rendered him unfit for the expedition, and his prudence which qualified him for being member of his council.... He sustained the attacks of the Greeks before Troy with great valour, but at last was slain by Achilles.
By 1180, just a few years after the end of the Trojan War, the Hittite Empire was on the verge of collapse, never to rise again. Whether Seti ever made it to their capital is doubtful, but the strain inflicted on them by the Greeks and Egyptians on their western flank, including, undoubtedly, the loss of a significant number of troops, did little to ensure the survival of an empire that was already in the throws of an internecine civil war.
And why are the Egyptians not mentioned in the Iliad? In point of fact, they are, though they are not recognizable as such at first glance. As the psychologist Julian Jaynes points out in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind in the service of his theory that consciousness did not develop in mankind until relatively late in historical times, there appears to be no use in Homer of terms that we would associate with consciousness and introspection, and he concludes that the Greeks' use of "the gods" to explain their actions resulted from hallucinations similar to those found in modern schizophrenics. There is of course a much simpler explanation for the inability of the Greeks to act independently and in response to their own inner feelings and perceptions: They were mercenaries and were required to follow orders! As we will see shortly, the original Zeus, or Sosos as Manetho calls his Egyptian counterpart, was an Egyptian king. That someone during the Trojan War should have been called Zeus is therefore not unusual, and there is no reason to assume that there were not other Egyptians with names equivalent to those of the gods present in the Iliad. Homer and his forerunners certainly would not have gone out of their way to point out that the Greeks were at Troy under foreign command, and so these shadowy rulers have been transformed into the inhabitants of Mount Olympus whose function is to direct the actions of the Greeks in a manner more ethereal than military, but the fact is that the plot of the Iliad rises and falls on the backs of the intentions, not of the Greeks, but of these foreign "gods."
The Return of Seti
Finally, according to Manetho, the high priest of all Egypt sent Seti a series of letters describing the behavior of his brother, a communication that would lead to the immediate withdrawal of Seti's forces from the eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia at the end of the Trojan War. No wonder Seti, now styling himself "Setnakhte" and claiming self-generation from the cosmic protoplasm itself, a claim that led the Greeks to call him Proteus, was livid. Suggestive of the secret enmity of his brother (Moses) toward Setnakhte, Diodorus gives an account of an incident that occurred upon the return of Sesoösis to Egypt when he, his wife, and his children were dining with his brother at Pelusium:
... [W]hen they had fallen asleep after the drinking he piled great quantities of dry rushes, which he had kept in readiness for some time, around the tent in the night and set them afire. When the fire suddenly blazed up, those who had been assigned to wait upon the king came to his aid in a churlish fashion, as would men heavy with wine, but Sesoösis, raising both hands to the heavens with a prayer to the gods for the preservation of his children and wife, dashed out safe through the flames.
Herodotus weaves the accounts of Manetho and Diodorus together in such a way that it is obvious that they refer to one and the same series of events involving Sethosis, or "Sesostris" as he calls him:
Arriving back in Pelusian Daphnae, he was invited to a banquet by his brother, to whom he had entrusted the kingdom during his absence. His sons were invited too. But when they came, his brother piled wood around the outside of the house and set fire to it.
Sesostris managed to escape, though it cost him two of his sons who formed a human bridge for the others to cross.
Setnakhte took the occasion of his return to the throne to drive both his brother and his sister from the country, as well as dissident elements of the Egyptian army and navy, the latter of which would prove invaluable during their flight from Egypt. Setnakhte's siblings left in a hurry, but not without taking with them an object he had brought back with him from Troy. Robert Taylor describes how this object came to be in the hands of the victors at that ancient siege in his Diegesis, written while sitting in jail on a charge of blasphemy.
Pausanias [relates] that when the Greeks had taken Troy, they found a box which contained an image of [Bacchus], which Eurypilus having presumptuously ventured to look into, was immediately smitten with madness.
This "box" was apparently the Ark that would later house the tablets of the Ten Commandments, though there are detailed instructions in Exodus on how it was supposedly constructed by a craftsman of Moses. Taylor earlier describes the other similarities between Moses and Bacchus:
In the ancient Orphic verses sung in the orgies of Bacchus, as celebrated throughout Egypt, Phśnicia, Syria, Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, and ultimately in Italy, it was related how that God, who had been born in Arabia, was picked up in a box that floated on the water, and took his name Mises, in signification of his having been "saved from the waters," and Bimater, from his having had two mothers; that is, one by nature, and another who had adopted him. He had a rod with which he performed miracles, and which he could change into a serpent at pleasure. He passed the Red Sea dry-shod, at the head of his army. He divided the waters of the rivers Orontes and Hydrastus, by the touch of his rod, and passed through them dry-shod. By the same mighty wand, he drew water from the rock; and wherever he marched, the land flowed with wine, milk, and honey.
Bacchus is a corruption of Iacchus. G. R. S. Mead gives the derivation in his Fragments of a Faith Forgotten:
I would suggest that Ieou is a transliteration of the four-lettered mystery name of the creator according to Semitic and Chaldćan tradition, the tetragrammaton of the Kabalah. Theodoret tells us that the Samaritans pronounced this name Iabe (Iave) and the Jews Iaō. Since the sixteenth century, by adding the vowels of Adonai to the unpronounceable YHVH, it has been pronounced Jehovah. It is now generally written Yahweh: but there is no certainty in the matter, beyond the fact that Jehovah is absolutely wrong. Ieou or Iaō are probably attempts in Greek transliterations at the same Semitic name, which contained letters totally unrepresentable in Greek; Yahoo or Yahuwh perchance, the name hidden in Iacchus (Yach), still further corrupted into Bacchus by the Greeks.
As I have shown in "The Stairway to Heaven" in my Origins of the Tarot Deck, Pythagoras spelled it IAHUEH (IAHYEH in Greek), and the early Pythagoreans went to the trouble of rearranging the Greek alphabet in order to make this holy name equal to the number 432 in their alphabetical numbering system. Hence, the Ark, as stolen from the Trojans by the Greeks and the Egyptians, contained an image of IAHUEH, the YHVH of the bible. Or perhaps there was something a bit more gruesome in the ark than a mere image of Iacchus that made Eurypilus go mad.
Within a couple of years of the Exodus, Seti had gone blind and committed suicide, leaving his kingdom to Ramses III, the son he named after his grandfather, Ramses the Great, a son who would mimic the actions of his great-grandfather to the point of veritable lunacy. But even this would not be the end of the story. By 1150 Joshua had already entered Canaan and Seti's son had been assassinated by contentious elements of the royal harem leaving Cisjordan open for full Israelite colonization. However, as we will see in Chapter 13, the existence of Manetho's 16th Dynasty over a period of 518 years suggests that Canaan was never very far beyond the influence, if not the hegemony, of the Egyptian throne. In this light, the Exodus should be seen, not as a final break with the period of Israel in Egypt, but as a reinvigoration of Egyptian authority over Canaan through the governorship (or "judgeship") of a "Syrian" branch of the Egyptian royal family.
Where was Aaron, the brother of Moses, while all of this was going on? Considering his importance in the biblical account, he should be a prominent player in this sequence of events and his Egyptian counterpart should be obvious. Yet he appears to be missing. Why is this? The answer is fairly simple, for there is another character here, confounded by Malamat and de Moor, and even by Manetho, with Beya/Moses. He is the Irsu of the Papyrus Harris, the "Syrian who was with them," as de Moor translates it, the one "who used to conspire with a companion, in order to confiscate their possessions." We have already met Irsu in the person of Osarsiph, the priest of Heliopolis who, in the words of Manetho, "made this law for them, that they should neither worship the Egyptian gods, nor should abstain from any one of those sacred animals which they have in the highest esteem, but kill and destroy them all." Compare this with the description of Irsu in the Papyrus Harris I, where "they treated the gods like men: no offerings were offered up within the temples."
By the time of the Exodus, this Irsu/Osarsiph had already overthrown the king of Egypt once and only kept from being roasted alive, as was the wont of the Egyptians for the most heinous of crimes, by fleeing with his followers to Syria, possibly that part known as Bashan on the Yarmuk River where de Moor sees the origins of the proto-Israelites, or more likely to Ugarit, the city where, as we shall see later, Abraham and Jacob once ruled as kings. When Aaron first appears in the bible, it is at the holy mountain of Horeb. It is usually assumed that he has come from Egypt; yet, if he is indeed Osarsiph, his appearance on the outskirts of Midian is an indication that his forces have left Syria and are beginning to infiltrate the lands closer to Egypt. Clearly, none of the ensuing events had anything to do with the intervention of any deity but involved a coldly calculated series of actions on the parts of Moses and his siblings.
There are really two versions of the same story here. In the Hebrew version, Moses manages to finally kill the pharaoh, though indirectly, then leads the Exodus with the help of his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam. In the Egyptian version, Ramses Khamenteru attempts to murder the pharaoh directly, fails, and is executed for his crimes. The Exodus is then led by his brother Irsu. The extent of Setnakhte's anger is evident from the inscription found on the island of Elephantine. Why he was so angry is clearly explained by the attempt of his brother to burn his entire family alive—which would have deprived them all of immortality—and the fact, at least according to one account, that Ramses/Moses had actually managed to get two of his sons killed, twice the number of the biblical account, and did in fact, in the eyes of the Egyptians, deprive them of eternal life. To Setnakhte, Moses was not just a revolutionary trying to free "his" people. He was a criminal of the worst kind, a stealer of souls.
The 19th Dynasty
Name from Manetho
|Modern Name||Modern Order|
|3||Rhamesses Miamoun||66||67||1286–1219||Ramses II||3|
|1White=Wholly within the reign of Seti II.|
Manetho's Dynasty XIX Represented Using Roman Numerals
|Africanus||Eusebius (arm1)||Eusebius (syn2)||Eusebius (jer3)||Correct Value?||
|Rhamesses||I||I (1)||Ramses I|
|Sethos||LI||LV||LV||LV||XV (15)||Seti I|
|Rhampses||LXI||LXVI||LXVI||LXVI||LXVI (66)||Ramses II|
|Rhamesses||LX||XIX (19)||Seti II|
|1Armenian. 2Syncellus. 3Jerome.|
Pseudo-Manetho and the Confusion of the Timeline
In the service of removing some of the confusion present in the various versions of "Manetho," I have constructed a table comparing the king-list of the so-called Pseudo-Manetho and his Book of Sothis with the list of Josephus and both of those with Manetho as preserved by the early Christians. The gaps in the numbering of Pseudo-Manetho result from the removal of material from beyond the period of the current and previous chapters. The full table is in Appendix A. A comparison of the king-list of Diodorus with those of Herodotus, Eratosthenes, and Manetho may be found in Appendix B.
Comparison of the Sothis of
Pseudo-Manetho with the
King-list of Josephus, from the Hyksos until the 19th Dynasty
|#1||Order. Josephus [years]||Pseudo-Manetho||Manetho||Pos.3|
|18th Dynasty (fragment)2|
|11||19. Acencheres I?||Akesephthres||Khenkheres?||12?|
|12||20. Acencheres II||Ankhoreus||Akherres||13|
|13||21. Armais I||Armiyses||Armais||14|
|19th Dynasty (fragment)|
|14||22. Ramesses||Khamois||Ramesses I||1|
|15||23. Armesses Miamoun||Miamous||Ramesses II||3|
|17||25. Sethosis & Ramesses||Ouses||Sethos II||5|
|26||1. Salatis ||Silites ||Saites ||1|
|27||2. Beon ||Baion ||Bnon ||2|
|28||3. Apachnas ||Apakhnas ||Pakhnan ||3|
|29||4. Apophis ||Aphophis ||Aphobis ||6|
|30||5. Jonias ||Sethos ||Staan ||4|
|31||6. Assis ||Kertos ||Arkhles ||5|
|18th Dynasty (complete)|
|46||21. Armais I||Armaios/Danaos||Armais||14|
|19th Dynasty (fragment)|
|47||23. Armesses Miamoun||Rhamesses/Aigyptos||Ramesses II||3|
|19th Dynasty (complete)|
|52||22. Ramesses||(unnamed)||Ramesses I||1|
|54||23. Armesses Miamoun||Rhampsis||Ramesses II||3|
|56||25. Sethosis (Aigyptos) & Ramesses||Okhyras||Sethos II||5|
|57||26. Armais II (Danaos)||Amendes||Amenmose||6|
1Order of the Sothis of
Pseudo-Manetho. 2The parenthetical descriptions refer to the list of
When we look at the above table, we begin to see where the confusion began among those who read Manetho and attempted to transmit his work to future generations. Early on, Armais, the last king of Manetho's 18th Dynasty, either Ay/Ephraim or Horemhab or some conglomeration of the two, was confused with a second Armais, the biblical Aaron who assumed leadership of the Hebrews after his brother was purportedly killed, either by Seti II or Siptah. The clue is that the Armaios of Pseudo-Manetho is called "Danaos" and his Rhamesses (Ramses II) is called "Aigyptos," whereas Josephus has the two as the brothers Sethosis and Armais, the Seti II and Amenmesses of the Egyptologists. The further confusion over the proper location of the reign of Amenmesses within the 19th Dynasty no doubt arose from the intersection of Aaron with Egyptian history at two separate points, the first when he seized the throne from Merneptah and was then removed by Seti, and the second when he either assisted his brother or replaced him during the days preceding the Exodus.
[Chapter Four: Judges of the Pharaoh]
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