Friday, September 23, 2016

Merenptah’s Stele - Egyptian Victory


 

Image result for 19th dynasty egypt warfare

                                                                                                                        

by

 

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

 

Only Martin Sieff, amongst the revisionists, had envisaged this as being

an Egyptian victory achieved by Merenptah himself.

 

 

 

To recall what I wrote previously:

 

– According to Courville, as we have seen, the stele’s inscription pertains to the Assyrian deportation of Samaria in c. 722/721 BC.

Velikovsky would later look to connect it with the deportation of the Jews to Babylon after the sack of Jerusalem by Nebuchednezzar II [Ramses II and His Time, pp. 189-196]. Though Bimson has estimated Velikovsky’s date for the 5th Year of Merenptah at “no earlier than 564 BC … 23 years after the fall of Jerusalem” [‘An Eighth Century Date for Merenptah’, p. 57].

Bimson thought (at least as late as 1980) that Merenptah’s Stele had pre-dated the fall of Samaria by about a decade, to c. 734-733 BC; it being a reference rather to the earlier Assyrian deportations of Israel by Tiglath-pileser III. …. [Ibid. See also ‘John Bimson replies on the “Israel Stele”,’ pp. 59-61].

– Rohl has in turn dated the conquests described in the stele to those effected by Seti I and Ramses II, his candidate for the biblical ‘Shishak’, himself regarding the stele as being Merenptah’s merely basking in the glory of what these, his great predecessors, had achieved before him. […. A Test of Time, ch. 7, pp. 164-171].

[End of quote]

 

For Drs. Velikovsky, Courville and Bimson (back then), this Egyptian Stele was supposedly commemorating one or another Assyro-Babylonian triumph – a most unlikely scenario! 

And Rohl, for his part, though regarding the document as being a commemoration of Egyptian victories, considered these to be triumphs pre-dating pharaoh Merenptah – victories by his predecessors, Seti I and Ramses II.  

Only Martin Sieff, amongst the revisionists, had envisaged this as being an Egyptian victory achieved by Merenptah himself.

Thus I wrote:

 

– And Sieff … related Merenptah’s victory to what he called the “time of troubles in the northern kingdom of Israel after the death of Jeroboam II”.

 

Sieff’s realistic version, which is the one that I basically embraced in my postgraduate university thesis (Volume One, Chapter 11, pp. 300-305):

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 


 

is dependent upon the biblical chronology of Martin Anstey - and taken up by Philip Mauro - that the reign of Jeroboam II in Israel was followed by a 22-year period of interregnum.

 

Patrick Clarke

 

Rohl’s revised chronology, according to which Ramses II was the biblical pharaoh “Shishak” at the time of king Rehoboam of Judah (I Kings 14:25), has recently been picked up by Creationist, Patrick Clarke in his article, “The Stele of Merneptah—assessment of the final ‘Israel’ strophe and its implications for chronology”: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j27_1/j27_1_57-64.pdf

 

It is clear that the Merneptah stele can be interpreted in line with the United and Divided Monarchy Periods of Israelite history. Furthermore, if it can be demonstrated that Merneptah’s father, Ramesses II, was in fact Shishak, many synchronisms previously held by both supporters of the CEC [conventional] and revisionists between the people of Israel and their neighbours collapse, and a whole new series of compelling synchronisms emerges. The reigns of Ramesses II and Merneptah are contemporaneous with the last few years of the United Monarchy and the first 75 years of the Divided Monarchy. A detailed analysis of the ‘Israel’ text indicates that far from being placed in the 1200s bc, Merneptah’s reign should be dated to 913–903 bc; a movement of three centuries. Consequently, Ramesses II would have reigned from 979–913 bc, in the Divided Monarchy Period. In my proposed revised chronology all the political, military, and economic factors detailed on the stele coincide with conditions in Israel. This was not the case three centuries earlier in the time of the Judges.

 

Whilst Clarke is correct in rejecting the conventional location of the Merenptah Stele to the approximate period of “the Judges”, his chronological re-setting of Ramses II and Merenptah has, in my opinion, dire consequences for the best efforts of the revision as explored by Drs. Velikovsky and Courville, and modified and enhanced by astute minds of the “Glasgow School” (including Martin Sieff). For, as Clarke goes on to write:

 

Once this historical re-alignment takes place, a number of synchronisms previously held to be true by some revisionists, albeit well-intentioned, are refuted. Some of these erroneous synchronisms are: Thutmose III/Shishak;31 Hatshepsut/Queen of Sheba;32 Amenhotep II/Zerah the Cushite; Israel’s King Ahab/Battle of Qarqar; Israel’s King Jehu/Shalmaneser III—the final two failed synchronisms in this list have serious implications for the less than reliable Assyrian chronology.33

 

No thank you. I myself shall stick with the, now manifold, synchronisms - as worked out by revisionists - between Egypt’s 18th dynasty and the United to Early Divided kingdom periods, especially the iron-cast synchronisms with El Amarna.

Patrick Clarke’s most useful contribution is, in my opinion, his expertise in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, which he has correctly noted has not been a strong suit amongst revisionists: “Knowledge of the Egyptian language and syllabic orthography is essential when assessing any Egyptian text, otherwise mistakes are inevitable”. Thus Clarke writes with regard to the Stele: 

 

This reliance in Christian works on blind copying of old, outdated translations, which probably reflects the dearth of competent archeology and history specialists in the Christian community, is fraught with problems, as will be seen.

Knowledge of the Egyptian language and syllabic orthography is essential when assessing any Egyptian text, otherwise mistakes are inevitable. The majority of Egyptologists are in agreement regarding the entity ysry3l as Israel based on the syllabic orthography of the name and the context of the final poetic unit of the Merneptah stele. It is the chronological placement of Israel where scholars of the CEC and revisionist positions come into conflict.

 

 

Clarke is particularly scathing about professor Joseph Davidovits, whom he calls “A secularist”, regarding the latter’s unorthodox translation of the Victory Stele that we had looked at previously (see Clarke’s section on p. 62: “A secularist attempt to deny Israel is even mentioned on the stele”).

 

A suggested interpretation

 

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This interpretation - enabling for the preservation of those many synchronisms established by the revision between Egypt’s 18th dynasty and the United to early Divided Kingdom of Israel - presents a phase in the history of Israel when that kingdom was king-less and the land in turmoil. Egypt, still powerful, may have faced little opposition in invading the north.

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Though it may yet be improved upon, I would at this stage consider that the solution (at least in part) to the interpretation of the 19th dynasty pharaonic Stele that I had offered in my postgraduate university thesis (Volume One, Chapter 11, pp. 300-305):

 

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background

 


 

is still the one that I would favour, presuming that “Israel” really is mentioned in the document.

This interpretation - enabling for the preservation of those many synchronisms established by the revision between Egypt’s 18th dynasty and the United to early Divided Kingdom of Israel - presents a phase in the history of Israel when that kingdom was king-less and the land in turmoil. Egypt, still powerful, may have faced little opposition in invading the north.

Anyway, for what it is worth, this is what I then wrote:

 

We are now in the time of the prophets Amos and Hosea, contemporaries of Jeroboam II …. Hickman thinks that the prophet Amos was actually even referring to the violent death of Jeroboam II in one of his proclamations:866

 

The prophet Amos, a contemporary of … Jeroboam II, adds another perspective to the matter when Yahweh states: “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (7:9), a symbol of war. Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, interpreted this statement as predicting that “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land” (7:11).

 

…. King has suggested, however, that Amaziah had misrepresented Amos here:867 “By

taking Amos’ words out of context, Amaziah distorted them and accused Amos of conspiracy against the king’s person”.

Perhaps Amos had actually foretold the passing of the House of Jeroboam by violence.

….

 

My own preferred interpretation of the ‘Israel Stele’ - which accords quite well, at least

chronologically, with Sieff’s view - is that it represents the scene that greeted Merenptah’s army upon Egypt’s return to Israel after more than two decades of hiatus, and shorty after the death of Ramses II. The stele’s celebrated phrase, “Israel[‘s] … seed is no more”, could well be then, as Sieff had noted, a reference to Israel’s then state of kinglessness; a disaster that seems to have been foretold by the prophet Hosea, when he proclaimed: “For the Israelites shall remain many days without a king or prince …” (3:4; cf. 10:3).

…. Hosea seems to be referring in part to an Egyptian ‘captivity’ of Israel, when he exclaims: “... their officials shall fall by the sword because of the rage of their tongue. So much for their babbling in the land of Egypt” (7:16); but more especially: “They shall not remain in the land of the Lord, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt ...” (9:3). “For even if they escape destruction, Egypt shall gather them, Moph [Memphis] shall bury them” (v. 6). Merenptah had in fact “increased the importance of Memphis”, according to Grimal.868 Also, as Sieff has written:869 “Hoshea [Hosea], who started to prophesy in Jeroboam II’s reign … predicted a time when “all would be carried into Egypt” as tribute [his ref. is to Hosea 12:1] …”.

The impression that one gets from reading Hosea is that Israel will go once again into captivity in Egypt, as it had of old. Merenptah, it seems, could truly write, upon his campaign arrival in Palestine:

 

Israel is laid waste – its seed is no more ….

 

The Old Testament tells us little in concrete, non prophetically-cast terms, about the 22-year interregnum period for Israel. Anstey, who had chronologically identified this interregnum period in Israelite history, attempted to fill it out somewhat despite the meagre details available:870

 

No account is given of the events which occurred in Israel during this interregnum which lasted 22 years. But the history indicates very plainly the straitened character of the times, and suggests a reason for the interregnum, for we are told

that the country was overrun by enemies, and the name of Israel was in danger of

being “blotted out from under heaven” (2 Kings 14 26. 27). Some mystery seems to

hang over this period. During the first part of it Assyrian history is also a blank.

 

According to Anstey this was also the time of the prophet Jonah’s intervention in Nineveh.

…. Here, nevertheless, is Anstey’s description of this troubled era:871

 

It is the time of the earthquake, two years before which Amos began to prophecy (Amos 1 1), an earthquake that was remembered even to the days of Zechariah, nearly 300 years later, the terror of which Zechariah uses as an image of the terror of the Day of Judgment. It was a time when the affliction of Israel was bitter, for there was not any shut up nor left in Israel (2 Kings 14 26). The author of the Companion Bible suggests that the words “shut up” are to be interpreted as meaning “protected”, like those shut up in a fortress, and the word “left” is a mistranslation. He derives the word so translated from the Hebrew word … azab, to fortify, not from the Hebrew word … ãzab, to leave, to forsake. The meaning then is “there was no fortress and no fortification”, or “no protection and no defence” against their foes. The bitterness of Israel’s affliction at this time may possibly be connected with the Civil War by which the Kingdom of Israel was torn asunder from the reign of Jeroboam II to the close of its history.

[End of quote]

 

The “earthquake” to which Anstey referred, that so dramatically heralded the prophetic

ministry of Amos, Courville had looked to connect with the cataclysmic Thera (Santorini) eruption, whose conventional alignment with the Amarna period (though now an earlier 18th dynasty phase seems to be favoured) Courville thought to have been based on no solid evidence.872 The catastrophe (whether or not it was also the Thera incident), would most definitely have added further to the chaos of these troubled times. ….

….

We have read that famine was also a problem in Syro-Palestine at the time of Merenptah.

….

 

 

 

This scenario, though, still needs to be properly co-ordinated with the reign, in Judah, of the very powerful king, Uzziah (or Azariah).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image result for biblical earthquake zechariah

 

 

 

 

 

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