martedì 19 giugno 2012
The sovereign role of Egypt in Canaan - Israel, as we know it, never existed
Ancient Israel, as we know it, never existed!
Post navigatio “Take Egypt out and the whole structure of the Israelites’ tale would instantly fall.”
Did you know that Egypt is mentioned in the Holy Bible approximately 700 times (Egypt: 595 times, Egyptian(s): 120 times).
Obviously, Egypt must have played a vital role in the history of the Hebrews otherwise it wouldn’t have been such a recurring theme in the Jewish holy book.
Egypt was, and still is, the magnificent overture to the Israelites’ story. Take Egypt out and the whole structure of the Israelites’ tale would instantly fall.
The land of the Nile has been the theater for the Israelites’ epic stories of alleged enslavement, divine retaliation, wandering in the wilderness and finally a breath-taking and logic-defying exit.
But on the other hand, do you know how many times Israel or the Israelites were mentioned in the ancient Egyptian records? … Well, and according to history and the ancient Egyptian meticulous records – get ready for the surprise- once or … maybe none at all.
Now and before I take you on a little journey back in time, around 3000 years ago, I want you to contemplate on this paradoxical ratio 1:700, and try to answer this simple question; what if there was someone who, you were told, talked of you hundreds and hundreds of times, citing places and stories he said had shared with you, only you don’t know who he is or what the hell he is talking about … what do you call that person? … A liar! A deluded person! … or maybe someone who is trying to steal your thunder.
If that is your answer, then we’re having a common ground for my following argument. If not, then, hop on my time machine and let’s visit the ancient Egyptian empire at its zenith.
ONCE MENTIONED BUT NEVER AGAIN
King Merneptah Stele – 1208 BC
The only time Israel was mentioned in the ancient Egyptian texts, the most meticulous and coherent of the world’s ancient civilizations and which covered the chronicles of nearly 3000 years, was in Merneptah Stele, a black granite slab engraved with a description of the victories of king Merneptah- son of the great Ramses II- in a military campaign against the Meshwesh Libyans and their Sea People allies, but its final two lines, line 26 & 27, refer to a prior military campaign in Canaan in the Near East.
The stele which dates to about 1208 BC was discovered by renowned British archaeologist Flinders Petrie at Thebes in 1896.
The Inscription contains a hymn and a list of the Pharaoh’s military victories. A tribe, whom Merenptah had victoriously smitten”I.si.ri.ar?”Or as Petrie quickly suggested that it read: “Israel!” is on the list of conquests. The mention of Israel is very short; it simply says,“Israel is laid waste, its seed is no more..
Watch the video of the Merneptah Stele as dispalyed in the Egyptian museum
However, a number of alternative readings for the text “I.si.ri.ar” have been suggested and debated. The most common alternative suggested is that of Jezreel (city) or the Jezreel Valley.
This was the first extra-biblical Egyptian source to mention the tribe of Israel and the last one for that matter.
Yes, maybe the tribe, not the kingdom, of Israel had been mentioned in King Merneptah Stele, but it was ascertained to be completely devastated and existed no more. Interestingly enough, the Israelites were depicted (with distinctive hieroglyphs) in the Egyptian stele as Bedouins/nomads who were always on the move and who never settled in one place/city- contrary to the Israelite story of invasion and settlement they have been raving about during long centuries of silent Egyptian records- the ancient Egyptian writing, Hieroglyphs, has been deciphered in 1822 by Jean Francois Champollion
Israel in hieroglyphs (in Merneptah Stele)
While the other defeated Egyptian enemies listed besides Israel in Merneptah stele such as Ashkelon, Gezer and Yanoam( cities to be inhabited later by pelset/philistines )were given the determinative for a city-state—”a throw stick plus three mountains designating a foreign country”—the hieroglyphs that refer to Israel instead employ the determinative sign used for foreign peoples: a throw stick plus a man and a woman over three vertical plural lines. This sign is typically used by the Egyptians to signify nomadic tribes without a fixed city-state, thus implying that ysrỉꜣr “Israel” was the demonym for a seminomadic population who were always on the move at the time the stele was created.
Unlike the old school of biblical archeology, which grabbed the spade in one hand and the bible in the other, modern archeologists describe their approach as one which views the Bible as one of the important artifacts into which centuries of Near Eastern cultural accumulations [Egyptian, Phoenician and Sumerian] had been integrated and sometimes copycatted [but] not the unquestioned narrative framework every archaeological find has to fit into.
Despite the scarcity of archeological finds that corroborate the veracity of the Hebrew bible’s narrative, modern archeology doesn’t deny the Israelites existed; rather it states they only existed quite differently.
For example, current Egyptology and Archaeology deny that there was an Exodus. Instead, they say that this is a confused memory of the Expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt while stressing the fact that Hyksos had nothing to do with the Israelites.
Since relentless excavations of Canaan/Palestine by Israeli and western archeologists since the beginning of the twentieth century only widened the gap between the historical truth as academics know it and the tales of the Hebrew bible, I thought maybe we could look for the missing part somewhere else. And since more consistent and reliable documentation is needed, we should therefore try and look for the truth in Egypt.
EGYPTIAN HEGEMONY OVER THE LEVANT / CANAAN
The bible chronology ironically places the exodus at around 1200BC, in the same period king Merneptah and his father Ramsses II ruled over Egypt, whose documented legacy speaks nothing of, or even close to, this Hebrew tale of “Great Escape” from the Nile valley.
On the contrary, king Merneptah leaves behind no tales of bewitched snakes or parting sea but only his famous stele which bears witness to the devastation of the Hebrew tribe.
The ancient Egyptian civilization depended entirely upon geography and that’s what mainly distinguished it from the Mesopotamian civilization.
The land of Egypt enjoyed many natural barriers; there were deserts to the east and west of the Nile River, and mountains to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. This isolated the ancient Egyptians and allowed them to develop a truly distinctive culture.
While Ancient Egyptian Empire was centered around the Nile River, Egypt’s kings consistently affirmed their control far and beyond the country’s eastern borders and spread their influence over a great chunk of the Levant in order to secure trade routes and relations with eastern powers.
So the territory known today as Palestine/Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and South Syria was practically under Egyptian sovereignty with fortified military garrisons and castles all over the area. And hence the hilarious part of the exodus tale is exposed. For you don’t exit the US by fleeing New York and heading for Massachusetts. Sinai and Canaan was very much Egyptian territory at the time.
The chieftains of Canaan’s tribal communities and leaders of the small cities had to pledge loyalty to the mighty king of Egypt. In return they would be granted his majesty’s protection and support in times of hardships. (Have you ever heard of Egyptian presence in Canaan in the narrative of the Hebrew bible, I don’t think so)
An example to the Egyptian hegemony over the Levant / Canaan, particularly during the new kingdom (1570 – 1070 BC), is the valley of Meggido.
Megiddo is the biblical city of Armageddon that stands above the plain where, at the end of the world, the final/ mythological battle between the armies of the Lord and the kings of the earth will be fought out, as the Book of Revelations tells (Revelations 16:16).
According to the documented/orthodox history, besides being the place of one of the greatest battles in the Egyptian empire, Meggido was merely one of those obscure tribal centers concentrated in land valleys and scattered along the Egyptian international trade roads. Its semi-nomadic people earned their living by shearing wool from sheep.
And to get a clearer picture of how the so called biblical cities depended entirely on Egyptian protection and support and how it was essential for their chieftains/leaders to show their unflinching loyalty to the Egyptian monarchy; Here is one of the famous Amarna letters, discovered in 1887, in which Biridiya, the chieftain of Meggido is practically groveling for the help of king Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten, 1350-1334 BC).
Notice that Biridiya is addressing the king of Egypt as “my lord, my god and son” and not as “Pharaoh”- another Biblical myth the writer of this essay consistently refutes.
Read: Debunking the Israelite Myth: Ancient Egypt Knew No Pharaohs
Letters from Biridiya of Megiddo
“To the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, thus speaks Biridiya, the loyal servant of the king: At the feet of the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, seven times and seven times I prostrate myself.
May the king know that since the archers have gone back, Labayu [chieftain of Shechem/ biblical town of Jacob and where Joseph is allegedly buried] carries out acts of hostility against me, and that we cannot shear the wool and that we cannot pass through the gate in the presence of Labayu, since he knows that you have not given (me) archers; and now he intends to take Meggido, but the king will protect his city so that Labayu does not seize her. In truth, the city is destroyed by death as a result of pestilence and disease. Grant me one hundred garrison troops to guard the city, lest Labayu take it. Certainly, Labayu has no another intentions. He tries to destroy Meggido.”
So the biblical city of Meggido was so small and feeble that 100 garrison troops were enough to secure and defend it against a takeover by another tribe. And that was during a period of time supposedly referred to in the Israelite history as the Settlement in Canaan (Judges Period)
DR. ASHRAF EZZAT